| Anthony Martini of Chicago, mourns his brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Philip John Martini while visiting a memorial of over 3400 pairs of boots representing the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq (AP).
Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling â€” and expected to rise in coming months.
In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.
"It could be a bloody â€” it could be a very difficult August," he said last week.
U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus on Saturday acknowledged the increase in casualties as a result of the American surge in forces to regain control of Baghdad.
"We're doing heavy fighting. This is a fight. There's a war on out there," he told reporters at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq.
Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst with the Brookings Institution and a consultant to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, said the increased casualties were a result of the security operation.