Baghdad: Two American soldiers have been
killed during a mission in southern Iraq, the US military said on Saturday.
The fatalities raised to 4,450 the number of US soldiers
who have died in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion to oust
Saddam Hussein, according to a news agency tally based on data from
independent website www.icasualties.org.
"Two US service members were killed yesterday while
conducting operations in southern Iraq," the military said in
a statement without giving any other details.
Sixty members of the US military were killed in Iraq in
2010, according to icasualties.org, by far the smallest number
Less than 50,000 US troops remain in the country, but a
security agreement between Baghdad and Washington requires
that they be withdrawn by the end of 2011.
The latest casualties came the same day as the top
American military officer said on a visit to Baghdad that Iraq
has just "weeks" to decide if it needs US troops to stay
beyond the year-end deadline.
"It (talks) needs to start soon, very soon, should there
be any chance of avoiding irrevocable logistics and
operational decisions we must make in the coming weeks,"
Admiral Michael Mullen said at a news conference at the US
military`s Victory Base Camp on Baghdad`s outskirts.
Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
no request had been made by the Iraqi government for any
American troop presence beyond 2011.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has named security as
one of his top priorities, but his unity government remains
deadlocked over appointments to key security portfolios.
Maliki has also told the American visitors that Iraqi
forces were up to the task of ensuring security.