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Pentagon: 1,000 troops wounded in Iraq war

Democrats want probe of uranium claim

Former U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks testifies Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about lessons learned from action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Former U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks testifies Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about lessons learned from action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the first time since the start of the war in Iraq, Pentagon officials have released the number of U.S. troops wounded from the beginning of the war through Wednesday.

Responding to a request by CNN, the Pentagon said more than 1,000 U.S. troops have been wounded or injured in Iraq since March 20, when a U.S.-led airstrike started the war.

The Defense Department provided these figures:

• 791 troops were wounded or injured during combat

• 253 troops were wounded or injured in action not related to combat operations, such as traffic accidents or accidental gunshot wounds

The Pentagon not disclose the type of wounds or injuries sustained. But the numbers shed more light on the overall toll the fighting has taken on U.S. troops during the war and subsequent occupation of the country.

Wednesday, a U.S. military base in the central Iraqi town of Fallujah came under attack as a rocket-propelled grenade hit its perimeter, military sources said. There were no reports of injuries.

From the time President Bush announced the end of major combat operations May 1, U.S. troops have been enduring sneak attacks on almost a daily basis around the country, resulting in deaths or injuries.

According to Pentagon numbers, between May 1 and Tuesday, 73 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

• 29 by hostile fire around Iraq

• 44 troops from non-hostile fire or in accidents

Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 211 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

• 143 troops by hostile fire

• 68 troops by accidents or other non-hostile incidents

As for the dollar cost of the Iraqi war and occupation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee Wednesday that it is projected to cost the Pentagon an average of nearly $4 billion a month through September. (Full story)

Bush: No doubts on Iraq war

Bush said Wednesday he was "absolutely confident" in his decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but he refused to be drawn into the controversy over an assertion he made in his State of the Union address that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Africa.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world peace, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States, along with allies and friends, did the right thing in removing him from power," Bush said during a joint news conference with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Bush is facing criticism in Washington over the claim he made in his January address that Iraq had tried to buy large amounts of uranium yellowcake from Africa -- an allegation that has since been proved to be false.

A Bush administration official said the president never would have included the information in his speech if his advisers had known it was false. Other U.S. officials said the White House had a report from a former U.S. ambassador a year before the speech that the intelligence was bogus.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday the latest White House statements "only reinforce the importance of an inquiry into why the information about the bogus uranium sales didn't reach the policymakers during 2002."

U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, used even stronger language.

"It's bad enough that such a glaring blunder became part of the president's case for war. It's far worse if the case for war was made by deliberate deception," Kennedy said. (Full story)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday defended his case for going to war with Iraq, rejecting allegations that he misled Britain ahead of the conflict.

"I refute any suggestion we misled Parliament or the country totally," Blair told a committee of senior members of Parliament. (Full story)

Blair's appearance before the Liaison Committee -- composed of the 36 chairmen of other select committees of the House of Commons -- came a day after another parliamentary panel said the British leader misrepresented the findings of intelligence information on Iraq's weapons program. (Full story)

Other developments

• Ahmed al Ani, an Iraqi intelligence officer who at one time was reported to have met with September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta a year before the attacks, was picked up in Iraq last week and is in U.S. custody, officials said. Shortly after the attacks, Czech Republic authorities told U.S. officials they had evidence the two men had met in Prague in April 2001. U.S. officials said, however, they had no evidence that Atta ever went to Prague. (Full story)

U.S. 1st Armored Division soldier carries school supplies donated by the Army to a primary school Wednesday at Al Shaab district in Baghdad.
U.S. 1st Armored Division soldier carries school supplies donated by the Army to a primary school Wednesday at Al Shaab district in Baghdad.

• U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon are working on a rotation plan to bring home many of the U.S. troops who have served in Iraq the longest, a senior military official told CNN Wednesday. Rotations could begin within days, the official said. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that all three brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division, which led the advance on Baghdad, were scheduled now to return to the United States by September.

• Two more former leaders on the list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis are in coalition custody, U.S. Central Command said Wednesday. They are Mizban Khadr Al Hadi -- a high-ranking member of the Baath Party Regional Command and Revolutionary Command Council and No. 23 on the list -- and Mahmud Dhiyab Al-Ahmad -- a former interior minister and No. 29 on the list.

• The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. aired an audiotape Tuesday said to be from Saddam Hussein calling for Iraqis to "intensify resistance" against "occupying troops." There was no independent confirmation of the speaker's identity or of when the tape was made. Lebanese Broadcasting officials said the tape, low in quality, was dropped off at the network's offices in Baghdad. It followed a audiotape supposedly from Saddam that the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network broadcast last week.

Correspondents Jane Arraf, Dana Bash, David Ensor, Jamie McIntyre and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

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