US President George W Bush has said military tactics in Iraq will keep changing to deal with insurgents.
President Bush insists the Iraq strategy is right
But the US would not abandon the goal of building a strong democracy, Mr Bush said in his regular radio address.
Saturday saw Mr Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discuss the escalating violence in Iraq with senior generals.
The talks came as 17 people were killed in a mortar attack on a market near the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi state television reported that 30 people had also been injured in the attack on the crowded outdoor market in the area of Mahmoudiya.
In other violence on Saturday:
- Three US marines were killed "by enemy action" in Anbar province
- Four people died and 15 were injured in a suicide bomb attack on a Baghdad bus
- The US military said troops killed a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in Ramadi, 110km (68 miles) west of Baghdad. He was not named
- Clashes have broken out between Shia militants and Iraqi police in the town of Suweira, south-east of Baghdad, killing at least three
The violence follows two days of clashes between Shia militias and Iraqi police in the southern town of Amara, in which more than 30 people were killed.
Mr Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis has become a major issue in the elections next month for Congress, and opinion polls are suggesting that Mr Bush's Republican party could potentially lose control of the Senate and House of Representatives.
On Saturday, President Bush met his senior generals via a video teleconference.
The BBC's James Westhead in Washington said that while there was no announcement of a change in tactics, one option thought to be considered is increasing troop numbers in the short term to try to reduce sectarian violence.
According to the US military, there has been a 22% rise in attacks in Baghdad this month.
With 78 US troops killed so far, October is on course to become the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq for two years.
In his radio address from the White House, Mr Bush said the last few weeks had been "rough for our troops in Iraq, and for the Iraqi people".
"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging," he said. "Our goal is victory. What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal."
He said the insurgents were fighting a media war and were attempting to drive a wedge between the American people and their government.
In the US, leaders of the opposition Democratic Party have sought to put further pressure on Mr Bush by calling for the start of a phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of the year.
They also want the president to convene an international conference to support what they call a political settlement in Iraq.