Two yesterday, 138 in April. And 677 since peace broke out

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The Independent Online

Four more US servicemen were killed in Iraq yesterday. In the year since President Bush formally declared victory, 677 coalition personnel have been killed in the country - 506 more than died during the war. Never before, in modern history, has the aftermath of a conflict claimed four times as many lives as the conflict itself.

Four more US servicemen were killed in Iraq yesterday. In the year since President Bush formally declared victory, 677 coalition personnel have been killed in the country - 506 more than died during the war. Never before, in modern history, has the aftermath of a conflict claimed four times as many lives as the conflict itself.

Over the past month, 138 Americans have died and nearly 1,000 have been wounded - a toll far in excess of any other month since the invasion began in March 2003. All told, 743 US servicemen and women have died on Iraqi soil. Britain's loss is 20 in combat and 38 non-combat deaths. Other coalition states have sustained 47 deaths, all since 1 May last year, which is when the mission was allegedly accomplished.

The names of 721 Americans who have died in Iraq were broadcast on network television on Friday night. Ted Koppel filled his Nightline programme by reading the names of the US fallen while their pictures were shown. It was not a mark of respect appreciated everywhere. A quarter of the stations that normally take Koppel's programme on the ABC network declined to broadcast Friday's edition. Chief among them was the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a stout Bush supporter and donor.

Their viewers missed Koppel's voice intoning the names of those who left America in uniform, only to return in coffins draped in a flag. "Marine Lance Cpl Aric J Barr, of Allegheny County ... Private First Class Benjamin R Carman of Jefferson, Iowa ... Sgt Felix del Greco of Simsbury, Connecticut ... First Lt Robert J Henderson of Alvaton, Kentucky ... Capt Arthur L Felder of Lewisville, Arkansas..." - on and on it went, a roll of honour lasting 40 minutes.

What no Iraqi television station could do is replicate this gesture for their own dead. Some are known ("Salima Hashem of Nasiriyah ... Muhammad Hamza of Kifl ... Rashid Majid of Baghdad ... Nazem Baji of Fallujah..."), but most are not. Unknown, too, are their numbers. Up to 7,000 military, say the most reliable think-tanks, and more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians, 1,361 of them last month alone. That's 18,000 people whose private hopes and potential were, to borrow a phrase from 12 months ago, missions that never had their day of accomplishment. For them and the tens of thousands wounded, there are no banners; they are but statistics that grow with each passing hour a year after the combat in their land was declared over.

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