More than 1,000 people killed in Iraq last month, highest monthly death toll in 5 years

The Associated Press reports: More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, the highest monthly death toll in five years, the U.N. said Thursday, a grim figure that shows rapidly deteriorating security as sectarian tensions soar nearly two years after U.S. troops withdrew from the country.

Violence has been on the rise all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began early last month. The increased bloodshed has intensified fears that Iraq is on a path back to the widespread chaos that nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Months of rallies by Iraq’s minority Sunnis against the Shiite-led government over what they contend is second-class treatment and the unfair use of tough anti-terrorism measures against their sect set the stage for the violence.

The killings significantly picked up after Iraqi security forces launched a heavy-handed crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija on April 23. A ferocious backlash followed the raid, with deadly bomb attacks and sporadic gunbattles between insurgents and soldiers — this time members of the Iraqi security forces rather than U.S. troops.

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