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The Pentagon says Iran killed 603 US troops during the Iraq War
Iran is responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members in Iraq from 2003 until 2011, according to a Pentagon report provided to the State Department.
"During Operation Iraqi Freedom, DoD assessed that at least 603 U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants," Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson told Task & Purpose.
"These casualties were the result of explosively formed penetrators, other improvised explosive devices, improvised rocket-assisted munitions, rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms, sniper, and other attacks in Iraq."
The Pentagon's latest figures are higher than earlier estimates, which put the number of U.S. troops killed by Iranian proxies and weapons at roughly 500.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters on Tuesday that the higher figure was based on "declassified U.S. military reports."
The revised death toll means that Iran is responsible for 17 percent of all U.S. troops killed between 2003 and 2011, Hook claimed.
Of the weapons that Iran is accused of providing Shiite militias and other groups in Iraq, the most deadly were explosively formed penetrators. This type of improvised explosive device fires a slug of high density metal at an extremely high velocity, giving the projectile enough energy to pierce any U.S. track or wheeled vehicle.
U.S. troops were attacked by EFPs most often in parts of Iraq that were predominately Shiite, such as Sadr City.
Under then President George W. Bush, U.S. government officials provided pictures showing that EFPs being used in Iraq had been built in Iran, but they were unable to prove that Iran had given the weapons to proxy forces fighting U.S. troops.
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How We Found Out explores recent reporting from Task & Purpose, answering questions about how we sourced our stories, what challenges we faced, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how we cover issues impacting the military and veterans community.
Following a string of news reports on private Facebook group called Marines United, where current and former Marines shared nude photos of their fellow service members, the Corps launched an internal investigation to determine if the incident was indicative of a larger problem facing the military's smallest branch.
In December 2019, Task & Purpose published a feature story written by our editor in chief, Paul Szoldra, which drew from the internal review. In the article, Szoldra detailed the findings of that investigation, which included first-hand accounts from male and female Marines.
Task & Purpose spoke with Szoldra to discuss how he got his hands on the investigation, how he made sense of the more than 100 pages of anecdotes and personal testimony, and asked what, if anything, the Marine Corps may do to correct the problem.
This is the fourth installment in the recurring column How We Found Out.