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US Death Toll Rises in Iraq
VOA News
29 Oct 2003, 21:09 UTC

Two more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and Pentagon figures now show more have died since major combat ended than were killed during the six-week war to oust Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials say the latest casualties came when a roadside bomb hit a U.S. tank on patrol about 70 kilometers north of Baghdad. One hundred and 17 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Department officials say they are considering shifting U.S. intelligence officers searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to counter-terrorism duties. A Pentagon spokesman (Larry DiRita) says the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction remains a priority, and that the mission of the 1,400 member Iraq Survey Group will not be changed.

But he acknowledged Wednesday that there has been high-level talk of taking intelligence resources from the group and applying them to counter-terrorism efforts.

The spokesman said this could involve translators, interrogators or others. The discussion comes after a wave of deadly suicide bombings and a rocket attack in Baghdad this week. One of this week's suicide bombings killed 12 people outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has decided to pull some international workers out of Iraq because of the security situation.