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Violence in Iraq spikes. Are US security interests in jeopardy?

A recent rise in civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq is cause for concern, but Pentagon personnel say Iraqi security forces are proving to be 'very capable' in the year since US troops departed.

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Security personnel inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, in November.

Ako Rasheed/Reuters

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Violence in Iraq from July to October hit its highest level in two years, a discouraging sign that – one year after the last US military vehicles exited the country – prompts questions about whether the situation on the ground in Iraq jeopardizes America's national security interests.

The question is one that defense analysts and Pentagon personnel are tracking, with particular attention to the response of US-trained Iraqi security forces to the rising numbers of deaths and injuries of civilians. So far, the assessment of both is guardedly positive.

“The levels of violence there are still extremely high – and lethal,” says Nora Bensahel, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), who notes that more people are dying in Iraq today than in Afghanistan, where America’s war is ongoing.

 
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