(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq is heading backwards in dangerous fashion.
With the United Nations reporting 979 deaths by terrorism in September, the concern is that Iraq has returned to the years when the conflict with insurgents was at its height and sectarian warfare between Shiites and Sunni nearly brought down the fragile central government.
Iraq's death toll from al Qaeda and insurgent-related violence during the first nine months of 2013 has reached 6,000, with the vast majority of fatalities occurring since April.
That's when the country held provincial elections and the Shiite-led government led a raid against a Sunni encampment that fueled deep anger and resentment against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's regime.
Car bomb explosions have almost become a daily routine in Baghdad and in areas generally north and west of the capital, where most al Qaeda and Sunni militants are based.
The violence is also made worse by militants freely crossing the porous border between Iraq and Syria.
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