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Report: Sectarian Violence Greatest Threat in Iraq

An Iraqi policeman secures the site of a deadly car bombing in Baghdad on Jan. 31, 2007.

The widely anticipated National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq describes an increasingly dangerous situation, where the United States has little control.

It finds that sectarian violence is outstripping al-Qaida as a threat, and judges that the violence may continue to worsen.

The report says that Iran's involvement is a factor in the deteriorating situation, but unclassified portions released to the public do not provide details of the extent of that involvement.

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The document says "civil war" is an accurate description of key elements of the conflict, and in some areas, does not go far enough in capturing the complexity of the situation: for example, regarding Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qaida attacks on U.S. troops and common criminal activity amid the chaos.

This is the third National Intelligence Estimate — based on analysis from the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies — which the Bush administration has released, in part, to the public. Two more reports are in the pipeline and are expected to be released in the spring, including a much-anticipated report on Iran.

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