BAGHDAD — Two marines were killed by insurgents in Anbar Province on Sunday, the American military command said, and three American soldiers died a day earlier in a bombing in southern Baghdad, bringing the total of American troop deaths in Iraq this month to at least 53, an extraordinarily high midmonth tally.
At the current rate of American troop deaths, almost four a day, October is on track to be the third-deadliest month of the entire conflict for the military, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent Web site that tracks war-related casualties. The two most deadly months coincided with major American offensives against entrenched guerrilla fighters.
The rise now, in spite of improvements in body and vehicle armor, followed a decision by commanders to increase the number of American troops patrolling Baghdad in an effort to quell the sectarian violence that has engulfed the city.
Attacks continued against government and civilian targets as well on Sunday. A series of seven bombings within a few hours struck in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 17 people and wounding at least 73, according to police officials.
Just last year, commanders began cutting back on American patrols in Baghdad in an effort to give Iraqi forces more responsibility. But the escalating violence forced them to reverse the strategy in late July, and thousands of American troops were shifted to Baghdad. Plans for a major troop withdrawal from the country by the end of the year were canceled.
A cornerstone of the new approach has been house-to-house sweeps of the capital’s most troubled areas, intended to ferret out militia networks, fighters and armaments. To date, the Americans, with Iraqi assistance, have swept eight districts.
Simultaneously, the American and Iraqi militaries have more aggressively pursued Shiite death squads, including elements of the Mahdi Army, the militia that loosely answers to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
Since the neighborhood sweeps started at the beginning of August, guerrilla attacks — against military and civilian targets alike — have risen about 23 percent across the capital, according to American military statistics.
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, a senior military spokesman here, directly attributed the rise in American deaths to the new security strategy.
“We are out more aggressively engaged in the city at this point than we were just a month ago,” he said at a news conference last Thursday. “Coalition forces are being much more active in going out and looking for these folks, these death squads and elements that are associated with the sectarian violence.”
According to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which collates statistics distributed in Pentagon news releases, the number of American deaths in Baghdad has sharply increased since the American-led crackdown began in early August.
That month, 20 American forces died in or near the capital, up from 12 in July and 15 in June. The number rose again last month, to 29.
The number of troops wounded in action, a figure that usually parallels the number of fatalities, has also increased drastically. From Sept. 28 to Oct. 11, 427 American troops were wounded, one of the worst two-week stretches of the war, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. In all of September, 776 troops were wounded, the fourth-highest monthly total since the American invasion, according to the Web site.
As fighting has risen to new levels in Baghdad, the capital, it has also continued unabated in Anbar Province, the stronghold of the Sunni Arab insurgency. At least 21 Americans have died there this month, and 60 over the past two months. At the same time, forces in the region have been stretched as more troops have been sent to Baghdad.
The deadliest months for American troops since the beginning of the war have been associated with major offensives.
Some 137 American troops died in November 2004, the same month as the second siege of Falluja, where the Americans battled Sunni Arab rebels. In April 2004, a bloody month with the first siege of Falluja and pitched battles between the Americans and Mr. Sadr’s militia in Najaf, 135 American troops died.
In contrast, the military has not conducted any major operations this month. The military has not initiated a new urban cordon-and-search operation for more than two weeks and has instead focused on patrolling the areas already swept, officials say.
In the multiple car bombings in Kirkuk, a city bitterly contested by several ethnic and religious groups, three suicide car bombers, including one driving a van packed with chickens and explosives, detonated their payloads throughout the city, killing 13 people and wounding at least 34, according to Maj. Gen. Turhan Yusuf, chief of the Kirkuk Police Department. One blew himself up near a girls’ academy, killing two students.
Four other bombs, including two unattended car bombs, killed four civilians and wounded at least 19 others, police officials said. Most of the bombs were apparently directed at Iraqi security forces.
In Baghdad on Sunday, the authorities recovered at least 30 bodies dumped around the city, an Interior Ministry official said.
Two bombs exploded near the convoy of the chief of financial affairs for the Interior Ministry, killing seven people, though the administrator escaped unscathed, the ministry official said. Another bomb exploded in the Amel neighborhood in Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding two others, the official said.
In Tal Afar, near Mosul, a suicide bomber wrapped in explosives walked into a local market and detonated himself near a police checkpoint, killing a child and wounding five other people, including two police officers, hospital and police officials said.
In Mosul, five members of a family were killed when gunmen burst into their home and opened fire, officials said, and gunmen assassinated Raad al-Haiali, a provincial official and a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group.
The tribunal trying Saddam Hussein and his associates said Sunday that it was postponing the date for verdicts from Monday, as originally planned, to Nov. 5, according to a senior court official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
Other court officials have said in recent days that a major reason for the delay is that after nine months of hearings, the five judges in the case have failed to reach agreement on a sentence for Mr. Hussein and appeared to be undecided between a death sentence for him or a penalty of life imprisonment.
Mr. Hussein, 68, faces a possible sentence of death by hanging for his role in the execution of 148 men and boys from the mostly Shiite town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.
John F. Burns and Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Kirkuk and Mosul.
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