Pentagon Report: Iraq Is at Risk of Civil War

The Pentagon acknowledges what already has been expressed by U.S. military commanders and others recently: Sectarian violence in Iraq is spreading beyond Baghdad. In its quarterly report, the Pentagon report showed Iraqi deaths have risen by 50 percent over the previous quarter.

Five weeks after the Bush administration brought thousands of new troops to quell rising sectarian violence in Baghdad, Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman says violence between Sunni and Shiite muslims has increased elsewhere in Iraq.

The report says violence has held steady in Baghdad. But it has increased in the southern city of Basra, where British troops have clashed with the Mahdi Army. It has risen in Diyala Province in central Iraq, as well as in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

The report says, "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months."

Nationwide in Iraq, the average number of weekly attacks tallied by the Pentagon has increased 15 percent over the past few months. Iraqi casualties have risen by 51 percent. That translates to 1,000 additional Iraqis killed each month.

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