A top United States adviser on Iraq has accused the US military of glossing over an upsurge in killings there.
A report issued by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says Iraq is more dangerous now than a year ago.
Stuart W Bowen Junior says the killing of US soldiers and senior Iraqi figures has risen, along with attacks in Baghdad.
The report contradicts usually upbeat assessments from the US military.
''Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,'' Mr Bowen concluded in a quarterly report to Congress. ''It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.''
The BBC reports Washington is preparing to withdraw its remaining 47,000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year, despite fears that the Iraqi security forces might not be ready to take over fully.