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Troop deaths in Iraq declined in November, dropping almost 34 percent from the previous month as violence ebbed after the end of Ramadan.

November closed with 70 U.S. fatalities in Iraq, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks U.S. military deaths in Iraq. Most were killed by enemy action. The U.S. military reported 106 troop deaths in Iraq during October, which was the fourth most deadly month since the war began in March 2003.

U.S. military officials in Baghdad had predicted a decline in violence after the Muslim holy month, which ended Oct. 23, and, “as expected, violence decreased following the end of Ramadan,” said Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the main spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Since the war began in 2003, attacks against U.S. forces have increased drastically during Ramadan and dropped immediately afterward.

Even though fatalities were down for the month, November was still the fourth most deadly month of 2006 for U.S. troops in Iraq. All but 10 of the month’s deaths were caused by enemy forces.

Of those killed, 38 were victims of makeshift bombs and 12 were killed by small-arms or sniper fire. Another 10 were classified as having been killed by “hostile fire.”

The U.S. death toll for November was down from a year ago, when 84 troops were killed. November 2004, during which 137 troops were killed, continues to be the single worst month for American forces in Iraq.

In Fallujah, a city between Ramadi and Baghdad, insurgent attacks fell from about seven a day during Ramadan to five a day afterward, Marine Col. Larry Nicholson, commander of Regimental Combat Team 5, said Nov. 17.

Attacks against civilian targets also decreased after Ramadan, said Caldwell. Through Nov. 20, sectarian violence and executions declined 22 percent, and Iraqi security force casualties were down 21 percent, he said.

In the last 10 days of November, however, there was a dramatic increase in violence against civilians, most notably the Nov. 23 attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City, which claimed the lives of some 215 Iraqis. Caldwell noted an increase in mortar and rocket attacks against civilian targets as well.

On the other hand, U.S. forces suffered about a third fewer casualties in the second half of November than they had in the first half.

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