• nbcnews.com, By Zuhair Shaaban and Alexander Smith
A series of recent attacks have pushed the death toll for 2013 past the 7,000 mark, according to the casualty database Iraq Body Count. It is the highest annual figure since Iraq was recovering from a sectarian civil war five years ago in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
On Sunday alone, car bombings in Baghdad, an explosion at a market, and a suicide bomber assault on soldiers lining up for their pay in the north of the country killed at least 66 people.
Experts say the skyrocketing death toll is due to a "nasty combination" of the country's existing power struggle between religious factions and spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria.
'We don't go out at night'
"The explosions and assassinations happen all the time and we are afraid to even go out in public spaces such as crowded markets for fear of an explosion or harm," said Ashraf Jabbar Mirza, a 40-year-old father of three whose uncle was killed by armed men in 2010. "Now there is so much more violence."