Backgrounder: A glimpse at U.S. cost of war in Iraq

19:00, August 20, 2010      

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Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the last U.S. combat brigade started on Thursday its departure from the restive country.

The withdrawal, well ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline U.S. President Barack Obama has set for ending U.S. combat operations, marked a symbolic moment for the highly controversial U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Beside the heavy losses and great miseries inflicted on the Iraqis, the protracted warfare has also taken a tremendous toll on the United States, both on the military front and in the political, economic and diplomatic domains.

One month and 10 days after the United States waged the Iraq War with large-scale assaults on March 20, 2003, then U.S. President George W. Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein already toppled and U.S. military casualties standing at merely 138.

However, the following years saw U.S. troops under frequent attacks by anti-American militants and their casualties on a steady rise. Till Monday, the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq reached 4,415, and some 32,000 others were injured.

Meanwhile, the casualties might further increase as around 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for another year, although they will only "advise and assist" Iraqi forces in their counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

The loss of lives was accompanied by enormous military spending, which climbed to 742.3 billion U.S. dollars by Thursday, exceeding that of the Vietnam War and the Korean War.

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