US president George W Bush's administration continues to insist Iraq is not heading toward a civil war, even as some senators and military leaders have expressed concerns that such a conflict may be inevitable.
"It would be, really, erroneous to say that the Iraqis are somehow making a choice for civil war, or, I think, even sliding into civil war," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday on ABC's This Week.
But Sen Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, an influential member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sounded more pessimistic and questioned whether the US should keep sending more troops to Iraq.
Hagel said this country cannot "ask them to do the things that we're asking them to do in the middle of a civil war, and that's where it's headed."
"We're ruining our United States Army. We are decimating our army. We can't continue with the tempo and the commitment that we are on right now," Hagel said on CBS "Face the Nation".
Fighting erupted in a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad today, and a suicide bomber blew himself up among mourners at a funeral in Saddam Hussein's hometown, killing 10 people and injuring 22.
Three US soldiers were killed on Sunday in a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad, the US military said. No further details were released.
The Bush administration has been reluctant to characterise the sectarian violence in Iraq as a civil war.