Residents of the northern city of Mosul say schools and shops have closed as US forces battle Iraqi fighters who briefly took the city last week.
"There is no government and people are afraid to leave their homes. We have nothing to do but stay at home," Muhammad Ahmad, 41, a teacher, told Aljazeera.net.
He was referring to the recent upsurge in fighting, some of the fiercest since March 2003, which rocked the northern city when local anti-US fighters fought running battles with members of the Iraqi National Guard and seized several security checkpoints and police stations.
Aljazeera learned that Iraqi police, trained by US forces to oversee security in this predominantly Arab city, fled their posts once fighting intensified.
Some US forces engaged in fighting in Falluja were redirected to Mosul on 16 November when Iraqi security forces launched a bid to retake the city.
Witnesses told Aljazeera.net, however, that clashes are still a recurrent feature in several districts of the city.
Meanwhile, US forces continue to report finding the corpses of Iraqis slain in last week's fighting, many believed to belong to members of the Iraqi National Guard.
Corpses of national guardsmen
are being found by US forces
According to a US military spokesperson, 17 more bodies were recovered by his forces on Saturday, raising to more than 50 the number found in the city in the past two weeks.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings said the bodies were found in various locations in western Mosul, which has seen the bulk of violence since fighters stepped up their campaign in mid-November.
"The bodies haven't been identified yet, but it all appears to be part of the same campaign of violence and intimidation," Hastings said.
Many of them were shot through the head and dumped by the side of the road, while others were mutilated and in some cases decapitated. Some of the killings have been claimed by a group allied to Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
At least a dozen were members of the Iraqi army and national guard, which have been working with US forces to restore order in Mosul, Iraq's third largest city.
Mosul journalist Abd Allah Ghafar contributed to this report.