At least 55 people have been killed in a string of car bomb attacks in Baghdad Monday morning.
Reports indicate that at least 17 separate attacks took place in majority Shia areas of the Iraqi capital, according to emergency services. More than 100 people were also injured.
According to AFP 2013 has been one of the deadliest years since American-led Coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, with more than 3,000 deaths so far. Violence peaked during 2006 and 2007, before a combination of Coalition military successes and local resistance to Al Qaeda brought down the levels of violence. However, in July of 2013 alone more than 700 people have been killed - largely the result of sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Al Qaeda on the rise?
The violence comes just over a week after more than 500 Al Qaeda terrorists - many of them senior operatives on death row - were freed in two deadly jailbreaks near Baghdad
Attackers used mortar shells and suicide bombers to free the prisoners, killing at least 20 members of the Iraqi security forces.
That attack, and the inroads made by Al Qaeda in neighboring Syria, have raised fears that the group is on the rise following a number of setbacks in Iraq, as the Syrian civil war and ongoing political instability in Iraq provide fertile ground for Islamist extremists.