Give or take a few of course.. 5.500 US soldiers deserted since the beginning of the war in Iraq For seven months Joshua Key fought in Baghdad and Falludja. The private 1st class stormed civilians homes and arrested numerous Iraqis. Now Key doesn't fight anymore. He's one of about 200 US deserters that escaped to Canada. In total 250.000 US soldiers have been fighting in Iraq since the beginning of the war. 5.500 of them deserted. They couldn't find a way of justifying what they were doing anymore. Key talked to SPIEGEL TV about the scruples he felt during his mission. "We don't find anything when we are storming those houses, but still we keep fighting these people. The worst thing for me was when we entered these houses and had to arrest sons and husbands. The kids and the women looked at me as if I was some kind of monster," Key told SPIEGEL. Like numerous other soldiers Key was confronted with the daily horror of the war in Iraq. He saw his comrades play soccer with the heads of dead Iraqis, then storm houses and arrest civilians, although nothing incriminating had been found. After two months already, he began doubting the rightfulness and the purpose of his mission in Iraq. "I went to Iraq to protect my country and my family", Key said. "I went there for honourable reasons. But when I saw that the US administration was doing something profoundly wrong over there, my perspective changed. If protecting my family and my country was what we are supposed to be doing in Iraq, I'd still be there. In the beginning I didn't know what the war was all about, if it was about oil or whatever. But one thing became obvious to me quite quickly: I clearly wasn't there to help the people or to bring them democracy." The memories of his mission keep haunting Key to this day. Even today, almost two years after returning from Iraq, the father of four kids is still suffering from insomnia, chronic anxiety and depression. Key and his family went into hiding in the US for 14 months, because upon returning home for vacation, Key instantly deserted. The family relocated every 30 days, moved from one motel into another. Since they were seeking shelter in Canada six months ago, their lives have become a little more peaceful and quiet. Still it's unclear how long the Key family will be able to stay in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court is still holding proceedings about the question if US American deserters should be classified as political refugees. The US has become a no-go-area for Key and his family. According to US military laws, Key would have to expect at least five years in prison or even the death penalty. An amnesty by president Bush would be the only way to prevent this.