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British soldiers killed in Afghanistan overtakes Iraq toll

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, June 3, IRNA – The number of British troops killed in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action has overtaken the 136 combat deaths in Iraq following the latest fatality announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Wednesday.

The death of the soldier from 2nd Battalion The Rifles as the result of an explosion while on patrol near Gereshk in Helmand province on Tuesday morning brings the total number of British fatalities killed from hostile action to 137 since the UK launched military operations in Afghanistan in October 2001.

MoD figures show that altogether 166 service personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan, including 29 from either illness, non-combat injuries or accidents, compared with a total of 179 in Iraq, which include 43, which were not the result of hostile action.

The latest death, the first this month, comes after 12 were killed in May, bringing the total so far this year to 29, compared with 51 in the whole of 2008, 42 in 2007 and 39 in the year before. In the first five years of the war, only five were killed, including three that were not the result of hostile action.

On Monday, Britain military leaders were reported to have warned Prime Minister Gordon Brown that more troops are needed in Afghanistan to maintain the UK's reputation with the US. In April, Brown announced an increase of 700 soldiers to the existing 8,300 deployed but only as a temporary measure for the country’s elections.

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