(1st Add: Includes new report from the Associated Press)
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. casualty count in Iraq continued to decline in the first half of October, according to Department of Defense reports.
Through October 15, the Defense Department reported that 14 U.S. military personal had been killed in Iraq since October 1. Twelve of these were combat-related, while the other two were not. The most recent reported death occurred on Oct. 12.
(The Associated Press has reported two deaths on Saturday and one Sunday. Those deaths have not been confirmed by the Defense Department yet.)
Because there is often a lag time between when a casualty occurs in Iraq and when the Defense Department reports it, these numbers may not be final. Nonetheless, they still demonstrate a downward trend in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq.
Last year -- during the same period -- 44 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq, all but two in combat-related incidents. That's more than three times the number of combat-related casualties now being reported for the first half of this October.
September 2007 marked a 14-month low in reported casualties: 68 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq, a drop in deaths the military credited to the 30,000 "surge" in troops that began in June. Among the 68 U.S. casualties in Iraq in September, 41 were from combat-related incidents.
In the first half of September, there were 42 overall U.S. casualties in Iraq, 27 of which were combat-related -- more than twice as many as the number reported for the first half of this month.
The Bush administration and many military leaders credit the surge for the drop in casualties, but many Democrats in Congress and other war critics point out that Iraq has not achieved political stability, while violence has dropped in some regions more than others.
Among the 12 combat deaths reported thus far this month, five occurred in Baghdad and two in Anbar, areas that continue to be hotspots for violence.
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