Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since Iraq regained its sovereignty in June 2004, the Pentagon told Congress on Monday in the latest indication of that country's spiraling violence.
In a report issued the same daytook over as defense secretary, the Pentagon said that from mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months.
The worst violence was in Baghdad and in the western province of Anbar, long the focus of activity by Sunni insurgents.
The military said Tuesday that a Marine died the previous day from wounds sustained from enemy action in Anbar, bringing to 61 the number of American military personnel killed in Iraq in December.
The Marine, whose name was withheld pending family notification, was assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable.
At least 2,950 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
At a ceremonial swearing-in attended by President Bush,would be a "calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come." He said he intended to go to Iraq soon to get the "unvarnished" advice of U.S. commanders on how to stabilize the country.
A bar chart in the Pentagon's report to Congress gave no exact numbers but indicated the weekly average had approached 1,000 in the latest period, up from about 800 per week from the May-to-August period. Statistics provided separately by the Pentagon said weekly attacks had averaged 959 in the latest period.
The report also said the Iraqi government's failure to end sectarian violence has eroded ordinary Iraqis' confidence in their future. That conclusion reflects some of the Bush administration's doubt about the ability of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make the hard decisions U.S. officials insist are needed to quell the violence.
"The failure of the government to implement concrete actions in these areas has contributed to a situation in which, as of October 2006, there were more Iraqis who expressed a lack of confidence in their government's ability to improve the situation than there were in July 2006," it said, calling for urgent action in Baghdad.
In other developments: