Violence in Iraq has been on the rise since elections last March, with al-Qaeda in Iraq recently announcing a new offensive against security forces and Shia Muslims.

Mosques, too, have been attacked, leading Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia leader who commands the Mahdi Army malitia, to offer "hundreds of believers" to support Iraq's security forces.

The government has so far rejected that offer.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Baghdad.

Source: Al Jazeera