Answer: There are a few Web sites that you can go and check to get the number updated. One is at the Department of Defense and the other is the Iraqi Coalition Casualties.
We at ABCNEWS look at these sites, plus we receive some press releases about fatalities of American service men here from the local Coalition Press Desk. We also check the state and regional wire services where many times families have released statements after being notified by the Pentagon. The numbers vary somewhat because of differences in counting. The current number is as high as 2,370 U.S. service members killed in hostile acts or accidents.
J.J. Marold from Yokosuka, Japan, asks: As Anthony Shadid has written, Arabs in general and Iraqis in particular are a vengeful people. Every slight, no matter how small or unintentional, is a requirement for revenge. Shiite kills Sunni and vice versa and each attack requires revenge. Without increasing the number of troops in Iraq by a large amount, what can the U.S. and British military do to stop this cycle of violence and payback?
Answer: I am not going to generalize about Iraqis, but certainly the increase in the power of militias in recent weeks has led to a spate of sectarian killings and increased fear in Baghdad neighborhoods. But I will add that I have met a Shia family that had their eldest son killed by an American soldier in sad circumstances and there was not the slightest sign of animosity to me as an American; not all believe violence begets violence.
The U.S. and British governments are trying to encourage the Iraqis to move forward with forming a government. The U.S. military and coalition partners are working to complete the training of Iraqi forces which now total about 250,000 personnel.
Those are the priorities of the Americans and others, and once the proper institutions are in place, to have Iraqis face themselves to try and stop the cycle of violence that continues in parts of the country.
Russ from American Fork, Utah, asks: You say that the percentage of people who support the terrorist acts is very small, but if that were true, wouldn't the Iraqis themselves be able to put the insurgency down? There must be a very large segment of the population that at least tacitly supports these terrorist acts.
Answer: The majority of Iraqis do not want the violence that has taken over their country, and do not support the efforts of foreigners coming in and orchestrating the numerous suicide attacks. It cannot be confirmed, but there are reports that Zarqawi has been sidelined by others in the Iraqi insurgent movement for his crimes against civilian targets.
There is tacit support, especially in the Sunni Triangle area, for any efforts to force the coalition troops out, but that does not mean that all Sunnis are taking part in the violence. These people who commit acts of terror blend in. When ABC News arrived back in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam we hired a number of local staff to drive, cook, clean, translate, etc. One of our cooks who by day would translate American recipes into tasty dishes was at night (we found out later) launching mortars at U.S. troops and was subsequently arrested and jailed.