A U.N. report says hundreds more Iraqis died in violence in July and August than in the previous two months, with many of the victims bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing.
The report, released Wednesday, says nearly 6,600 Iraqis were killed in July and August, and that the total of 3,590 in July was unprecedented.
The report describes as "particularly abhorrent" terrorist attacks against markets and mosques, and the killing of religious pilgrims.
Iraq has seen a recent spike in sectarian violence and insurgent attacks. In the latest unrest, at least 30 people were killed in insurgent attacks across the country.
A top U.S. commander in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell says he expects attacks to increase further during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in days.
In Washington, the White House dismissed reports that President Bush has lost confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A spokesman said there has been much progress in the country since Mr. Maliki took office in May.
Meanwhile, the new chief judge in the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein began his tenure Wednesday by ejecting the former Iraqi leader from the courtroom. Saddam had shouted at the judge, Muhammad al-Oreibi before being removed from the courtroom.
On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch criticized this week's firing of the previous judge in Saddam's trial, Abdullah al-Amiri. The rights group said his dismissal appeared to violate the independence of the court.
Prosecutors in the trial had accused al-Amiri of bias toward Saddam.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.