BAGHDAD (AP) – An American soldier was killed in a mortar attack at a sprawling base on the western edge of the Iraqi capital, the U.S. military said Friday, an attack that reveals insurgents remain capable of striking at U.S. troops even at a distance.
The death of the soldier comes as insurgents have stepped up attacks against Iraqi security forces in recent months as U.S. troops have pulled back to bases outside Iraqi cities.
Insurgents have primarily targeted Iraqi forces and government officials, but have also attacked U.S. troops across Iraq with mortars and roadside bombs.
The Multi-National Corps-Iraq soldier was killed Thursday in what is at least the second attack in two weeks at Camp Liberty, part of a group of American bases that make up the American headquarters in Iraq known as Camp Victory.
A rocket struck Camp Liberty last week but caused no casualties, said Army Lt. Col. David Patterson, a military spokesman.
The name of the soldier was being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the military said in a statement.
The death raised to at least 4,348 members of the U.S. military who have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count The number of troops killed in combat has dropped dramatically since 2007 as violence has declined sharply, though there have been a number of U.S. soldiers who have died as a result of non-combat injuries.
With the decline in violence, the U.S. has accelerated its withdrawal from Iraq. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander in Iraq, has said 4,000 troops will be sent home in October ahead of schedule.
Under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact, the U.S. pulled out of Iraq’s cities on June 30. President Barack Obama has ordered all combat troops out of the country by Aug. 31, 2010, leaving up to 50,000 troops in advising roles. All troops would withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011, under the pact.
Iraqi casualties also have fallen off. September had the second-lowest death toll for Iraqis since The Associated Press began tracking casualties in May 2005. At least 238 people killed, according to an AP count, based on reports from local police, military officials and hospitals. Only May 2009, with 225 deaths, was lower. An Iraqi report, based on statistics from the defense, health and interior ministries, placed last month’s Iraqi death toll at 203, including 125 civilians, 38 police officers and 40 soldiers.