U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Tops 3,500

US soldiers from the 1st Battalion 28th Infantry Regiment, Delta Company kick open a locked door to conduct a random check in the southwestern Bayaa neighbourhood of Baghdad, 07 June 2007.
Getty Images/Roslan Rahman
Another U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, the military said Thursday, pushing the four-year death toll for American forces to 3,501, according to an Associated Press tally.

The count includes 23 deaths in the first six days of June, an average of about four per day.

The soldier was killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded during combat operations in a southwestern section of Baghdad, a military statement said. It added that two other soldiers were wounded in the attack and evacuated to a coalition medical facility.

The soldiers' names were withheld pending notification of relatives.

The Bush administration has warned that the current troop buildup in and around Baghdad will result in more U.S. casualties as American troops increasingly come into contact with enemy forces.

Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner told reporters Wednesday that the last of five brigades earmarked for the buildup will arrive in the "next couple of weeks," but may take up to two months to establish itself as fully operational.

In other developments:

  • Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr went on state-run TV in his first interview since the U.S. surge began, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan, and blamed all of Iraq's problems on U.S. forces. Sadr's comments are being watched closely by U.S. intelligence, Logan reports, because he's the one man in Iraq who can single-handedly affect the success of the U.S. surge.
  • Public approval of the job President Bush is doing now matches its all-time low, an AP-Ipsos poll says. The survey reflects widespread discontent over how Mr. Bush is handling the war in Iraq, efforts against terrorism and domestic issues.
  • The Army general picked by President Bush to become his personal war adviser suggested Thursday that pressuring the Iraqis to take on more responsibility might not work. "I have reservations about just how much leverage we can apply in a system that's not very capable right now," Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
  • Turkey has declared several areas near the border with Iraq to be "temporary security zones" in a sign of increasing activity by the military in its campaign against Kurdish rebels. The declaration Wednesday came amid a Turkish military buildup on the border, and on the same day as Turkish security officials and an Iraqi Kurdish official said hundreds of Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas who launch raids into Turkey.
  • A female Iraqi journalist was shot to death while she was waiting for a taxi Thursday in the northern city of Mosul, according to police and her news agency. Sahar al-Haidari, a 45-year-old mother of four, covered political and cultural news for the independent Voices of Iraq news agency and was second employee of the organization to be killed in just over a week.

    Meanwhile, bombers struck across the country again Thursday, from a restaurant in Baghdad's teeming Sadr City to a police station leveled by a blast near the Syrian border. At least 15 people were reported killed.

    In the capital's eastern Sadr City district, a Shiite Muslim stronghold, a bomb beneath a parked car exploded at lunchtime outside a falafel restaurant, police reported. At least three people were killed and eight wounded, said a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

    Sadr City has been repeatedly targeted by Sunni extremists seeking to terrorize the Shiite majority and inflame hostilities between the Muslim sects.

    Earlier, in the day's first reported attack, a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden truck at about 9 a.m. at a police station in Rabia, near Iraq's border with Syria, killing at least four policemen and five civilians, and wounding 22 other people, an Iraqi army spokesman said.