Gas prices at six-year high heading into July 4 holiday weekend

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U.S. gas prices are the highest they've been since 2008 heading into the July 4 weekend, according to AAA.

Drivers will pay the most expensive Independence Day prices at the gas pump in six years in large part due to violence in Iraq, which has increased the global cost of oil.

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AAA predicts that 34.8 million U.S. drivers will travel 50 miles or more by car during the holiday weekend despite the price increase.

"Most drivers are paying about 15-20 cents more per gallon than expected heading into the busy Independence Day weekend due to market fear about Iraq," AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement. "It is frustrating that events overseas will make it more expensive to celebrate Fourth of July here at home."

The auto group doesn't expect the high gas prices to severely affect travel in the U.S., but they may cause consumers to scale back on dining, shopping and other activities.

Violence in Iraq broke out earlier this month when Islamic militants captured the country's second-largest city. Concerns surrounding a disruption in the country's oil producing regions has driven up global oil prices.

Heading into the July 4 recess, Democratic lawmakers pushed for legislation that would limit speculators from "taking advantage of turmoil in Iraq" to spike gas prices.

Analysts at Gas Buddy expect the national average for regular unleaded to hit $3.70 per gallon by July 4.