U.S. death toll in Iraq seen spurring anti-war protests
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.
The milestone comes as President George W. Bush weighs options, including more troops, for the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where daily violence plagues Baghdad and much of the country and has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.
The Web site, www.icasualties.org, listed the death of Spec. Dustin R. Donica, 22, on December 28 as previously unreported, and said that 3,000 U.S. military personnel had now died.
In Kansas City, they will light candles and lay out more than 80 pairs of empty combat boots. In Chicago, anti-war activists will hand out black ribbons, each bearing the name of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.
And in New Haven, Connecticut, opponents of the war plan to read aloud the names of 3,000 dead U.S. soldiers.
In all, organizers say some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned to mark the 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, a milestone that is likely only days away. By Thursday, some 2,989 U.S. troops had died in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the unrelenting violence.
Among those keeping track of the U.S. death toll, including soldiers' families, peace activists, politicians, veterans and others, many say they will commemorate the 3,0000 mark as both a way to honor the dead and demand an end to the war.
"This horrific and tragic milestone allows us to remind this country of the daily unending human toll of a war that didn't have to happen," said Nancy Lessin, who co-founded Military Families Speak Out after her stepson was called to serve with the Marines in Iraq.
"When we reach the 3,000 mark, it is 3,000 too many."