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Enemy forces in Iraq killed more U.S. troops in October than they had in any month in almost two years, U.S. military news releases show.

October was the fourth-deadliest month on record in the 44-month-long war. But it was the third deadliest in terms of the number of troops killed by insurgents.

According to The Associated Press, 105 U.S. troops died in Iraq in October. The Defense Department has so far identified 102, and of those, 97 died as a result of enemy action.

That’s the highest number of U.S. troops killed by enemy forces in one month since November 2004, when U.S. forces stormed the city of Fallujah for the second time that year.

Military officials predicted that attacks against U.S. troops would increase over Ramadan, and they did. At various times in October, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the main spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, offered two other reasons for the swell in U.S. casualties: an increased U.S. troop presence in Baghdad and the insurgents’ hope that the U.S. election might help them attract more media attention.

He gave a somewhat brighter assessment of the current situation during a briefing Thursday.

“Last week, casualties did decrease with a nationwide drop of approximately 23 percent,” Caldwell said. “But over the last four weeks, casualties were higher than the levels seen in the months of August and September.”

The two deadliest months in Iraq, April 2004 and November 2004, each saw 126 U.S. troops fall as a result of hostile action, according to DOD statistics. The high death toll in April 2004 was also attributed to U.S. operations in Fallujah.

January 2005 was the last month U.S. troop casualties reached triple digits, but in terms of casualties inflicted by the enemy, that month was about average, according to DOD Personnel and Procurement Statistics.

Of the 106 troops who died in Iraq that month, exactly half died in accidents or other nonhostile incidents. Most of the accidental deaths that month — 31 — resulted from the crash of a Marine Super Stallion helicopter Jan. 26, 2005. That day continues to be the single deadliest day in the Iraq war.

The number of troops wounded in action has climbed steadily since April. On average, 481 troops are wounded in action and 50 are killed in action every month.

In September, 61 U.S. troops were killed by enemy forces and 776 were injured. The Defense Department has not yet released the total number of troops wounded by enemy forces in October.

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