The United States has condemned a wave of shootings and bomb attacks in and around Baghdad that has left more than 100 dead and scores injured.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the deadly violence was particularly disturbing at a time when Muslims are celebrating their holy month of Ramadan.
"We strongly condemn these attacks which took place today [and which] took place over the weekend in Iraq," Nuland said on July 23 in Washington.
"The targeting of innocents is always cowardly," she said. "It's particularly reprehensible during this holy month of Ramadan. I would like to say it's unusual. Unfortunately, it's not unusual to see terrorists exploit the holy month."
Iraqi officials say nearly 200 people were wounded as a result of 21 different attacks in 13 cities.
They included July 23 strikes at a military base near the town of Dhuluiyah, and in the city of Taji, where about 40 people were reported to have died.
Bombings and shooting attacks also occurred in Saadiyah, Khan Beni Saad, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Dibis, all north of the capital.
The carnage made July 23 the deadliest single day of violence in Iraq so far in 2012.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is suspected of planning the violence because it had issued threats of a new offensive in Iraq just before the wave of violence began.
Al-Qaeda also has been calling on Sunni tribes to join in violence.
Nuland said the United States is confident that Iraqi security forces will be able to deal with the terrorist threat, despite the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country last December:
"The position of the Iraqi government is that they want to be responsible for their own security [and] that they are up to the task of dealing with these kinds of things," Nuland said.
"The issue here is the horrific tactics of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who, during this month of Ramadan, are making desperate efforts to call on Sunnis to turn against their government, to assassinate judges and investigators, and to in general turn against all of these democratic institutions," she said.
"They're going to fail," Nuland insisted. "The Iraqis know they're going to fail."
White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed Nuland's comments.
Carney said there is no question that Iraq remains a violent place. But he said: "It is also the case that Iraq is not nearly as violent a place as it was."
Carney also said Iraqi security forces have been trained up and have the capacity to deal with internal security in the country.
With reporting by Reuters, AP and AFP