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In April 2007, Baghdad was ramping up for what would become the city’s deadliest month for U.S. soldiers. Americans had flooded the city as part of the "surge." Insurgents, including Mahdi Army militia members, weren’t happy.

The 51 American deaths during the ensuing fighting made April the worst month in the city up to that point, and more than twice as bad as just two months earlier. The casualties would keep climbing into May and June, when 59 soldiers died in each of those months.

April was the same month that American soldiers with 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment allegedly took at least four suspected Mahdi Army members to the side of a Baghdad canal, lined up the blindfolded and handcuffed prisoners and shot them in the head. (The battalion has since been redesignated 1st Battalion, 172nd Infantry Brigade.)

The battalion was in the thick of Baghdad’s fighting. Five battalion soldiers died in Iraq in April 2007 — one from small-arms fire and the remaining four from roadside bombs. In one attack April 6, 2007, three soldiers in the lead Humvee of a convoy through Baghdad died when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle. Ten days later, a roadside bomb killed one more soldier and enemy small-arms fire killed another.

The stress was felt as far away as the unit’s home in Schweinfurt, Germany. Neighbors called before visiting at odd hours to avoid spooking spouses who lived in fear of a knock on their door telling them their loved one had been killed in Baghdad, they told Stars and Stripes.

In the end, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, of which the 1-18 was a part, had the deadliest deployment of any Europe-based unit. Nineteen of those deaths were from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry.


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