In September there were six total U.S. combat casualties reported, a near-historic low for the entire war, and none reported in the Anbar Province, which was written off in 2006 as too dangerous by a U.S. intelligence report.
As a result of the troop surge throughout 2007 and the “awakening” in the Anbar Province, al Qaeda operatives apparently have been ejected from former strongholds in the Baghdad Province and the Anbar Province. Military campaigns directed against al Qaeda are now focused in the northern-most regions of Iraq.
A CNSNews.com analysis of U.S. Defense Department reports shows that in 2008, thus far, both combat and non-combat casualties have been concentrated in the Baghdad, Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninawa and Diyala Provinces.
But beginning in June, the already declining casualty figures for Anbar fell to the point where they were non-existent -- at least in September. In Diyala, where al Qaeda fled after being expelled from Anbar, U.S. casualties have been low in comparison to where they were a year ago.
Most U.S. casualties continue to occur in Baghdad, where 108 combat and non-combat deaths have been recorded since January 2008. The province with the next highest casualty figure for the entire year is Anbar Province with 27; then Salahuddin with 19; Ninawa with 17; and Diyala with 12.
Among the 27 Anbar casualties reported for 2008, six were non-combat, according to the Defense Department. Meanwhile, in the Ninawa Province -- where most military operations have been concentrated recently -- no U.S. casualties were reported in the month of September. However, only two of the 17 casualties recorded for 2008 were non-combat.
Fred Kagan, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), told CNSNews.com that he had some concerns about Mosul, the capital city in the Ninawa Province, where al Qaeda still has a presence.
But even there, U.S. casualties have been relatively light for much of 2008 thanks in part to the heightened efficiency and effectiveness of Iraq’s own security forces, Kagan said.
And there was more good news this month: On Oct. 5, American troops in Mosul – acting on a tip -- killed the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Moroccan known for his ability to recruit and motivate foreign fighters.
The death of Abu Qaswarah happened during a raid on a building that served as "key command and control location for" al-Qaeda in Iraq in the Mosul area, the military said.