Four U.S. Marines killed in Iraq - 12 May, 2006

Four U.S. Marines died in Iraq when their tank rolled off a bridge into a canal and they drowned, the military said Friday.

The deaths were not a result of enemy reaction, the U.S. command said.

The accident occurred Thursday when the four Marines with Regimental Combat Team 5 were traveling in a U.S. M1A1 Main Battle Tank near Karmah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) in Anbar Province where many of Iraq's Sunni Arab led insurgent groups are based.

"We are a close-knit family and this loss affects us all," said Col. Larry D. Nicholson, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 5. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these Marines during this difficult period."

The names of the deceased were withheld pending notification of their relatives, and the accident was under investigation, the military said.

Their deaths raised to at least 2,434 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count, reports the AP.

I.L.