This past month has earned two distinctions in the United States' major war fronts. As we reported Tuesday, August became the deadliest month ever in Afghanistan, but in Iraq the news was positive: August became the first full month without an American casualty since the invasion in 2003.
The New York Times reports the news comes on the heels of an Iraqi crackdown on Iranian-backed Shiite militias. The paper adds:
The milestone is particularly remarkable because it comes after 14 troops were killed in July, making it the most deadly month for the Americans in three years, and it has occurred amid a frightening campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations from Sunni insurgents that killed hundreds of Iraqis, resurrecting the specter of the worst days of sectarian fighting.
"If you had thought about a month without a death back during the surge in 2007, it would have been pretty hard to imagine because we were losing soldiers every day, dozens a week," said Col. Douglas Crissman, who is in charge of American forces in four provinces of southern Iraq and oversaw a battalion in Anbar Province during the troop increase. "I think this shows how far the Iraqi security forces have come."
As of Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. ET., reports the Pentagon, the number American service members killed remained at 4,408 deaths. In fact, according to icasualties.org, which tracks war deaths, Sgt. Mar Cofield, who was killed in Baghdad on July 17 was the last U.S. casualty.
CNN points out that for Iraqis, however, the month of August was deadly: It "saw the worst wave of violence to strike the country in months. On August 15, for example, a barrage of attacks across the country killed at least 84 people and wounded more than 200."