BAGHDAD, Iraq – The American death toll for October climbed past 100, a grim milestone reached as a top White House envoy turned up unexpectedly in Baghdad on Monday to smooth over a rough patch in U.S.-Iraqi ties. At least 80 people were killed across Iraq, 33 in a Sadr City bombing targeting workers.
A member of the 89th Military Police Brigade was killed in east Baghdad Monday, and a Marine died in fighting in insurgent infested Anbar province the day before, raising to 101 the number of U.S. service members killed in a bloody October, the fourth deadliest month of the war. At least 2,814 American forces have died since the war began.
Upon arriving on an unannounced visit, National Security Adviser
Stephen Hadley went straight into meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his security chief, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, telling them he “wanted to reinforce some of the things you have heard from our president.”
The White House said Hadley was not on a mission to repair ragged relations, accounts of which it said had been “overblown” by the news media.
“Absolutely not,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington. “This is a long planned trip to get a first hand report of the situation on the ground from the political, economic and security fronts.”
But the timing of the visit argued otherwise.
Last week Al-Maliki issued a string of bitter complaints — at one point saying he wasn’t “America’s man in Iraq” — after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad unveiled adjustments in America’s Iraq strategy.