WASHINGTON—When President Bush declared May 1 that major combat operations had ended in Iraq, there was little discussion of what he meant.
For all practical purposes, it seemed the war was over.
It is not.
Since the president made his statement to waves of applause from sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, 47 American servicemen have died in Iraq. Commanders say there is much more fighting ahead.
The total number of American deaths in Iraq since the war began March 19 is 185, according to the Pentagon's count.
The count includes two fatalities announced Friday by U.S. officials in Kuwait: One soldier was killed in a vehicle accident at an air base in Iraq and another drowned while swimming in a lake in Iraq.
Neither was identified pending notification of relatives.
Although large parts of Iraq are relatively peaceful and U.S. military control overall is not in doubt, an amalgam of shadowy resistance forces, including numerous non-Iraqi fighters, are carrying out almost daily hit-and-run attacks against the American occupation forces.
In response, U.S. troops this week began a combat operation, code-named Peninsula Strike, in an area north of Baghdad along the Tigris River against what Central Command described as "Baath Party loyalists, paramilitary groups and other subversive elements."
Some analysts think these remnants of Saddam Hussein's government are hoping to make a comeback in chaos by killing enough U.S. troops to exhaust the American public's tolerance for casualties.
The death toll as of Friday was far below the 382 in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Bush's father was president, but the comparison is closer for those in the "hostile death" category (killed in action or died of wounds): 127 in the current war, 147 in the first Gulf War. The 382 in the earlier war and the 185 in the current one include accidents and illness.
No U.S. troops have been killed in Peninsula Strike, although a small number have been wounded, Pentagon officials said.
About 4,000 U.S. troops are involved in the operation, mostly from the Army's 4th Infantry Division, the officials said. Besides the Saddam loyalists, there are an unknown -- and perhaps unaffiliated -- number of foreign fighters who have staged attacks on American forces since Baghdad fell in April. Pentagon and intelligence officials say these include Saudis, Yemenis, Syrians and Africans motivated primarily by anti-U.S. Islamic extremist ideology.