This year has become the deadliest for American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, after five soldiers and a sailor were killed. The attacks brought the number of US soldiers killed this year to at least 852, eclipsing the 849 in 2004, according to data compiled by icasualties.org, an independent internet site that tracks Iraq war casualties.
With more than seven weeks left in the year, the toll is set to far outstrip any previous year. At least 3855 US troops have died since the conflict began in March 2003, according to the website.
In addition to the troop build-up that increased US forces by nearly 30,000, US officials pursued a new strategy that put troops at greater exposure.
The military moved large numbers of troops off major bases and stationed them in outposts in the communities they were assigned to safeguard, leading to a rise in deaths earlier in the year.
"We knew going into this that with the new strategy there was a potential for more casualties," said Colonel Steven Boylan, a spokesman for General David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq.
"When the strategy became to protect the civilian population, that automatically increased the risk to our forces, because you have to be out in the population to do that."
The fatalities were pushed up in April, May and June, with more than 100 troops killed each month. May's toll of 126 was the third-highest since the invasion.