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The transmission of coded communication systems is widely modeled to take place over a set of parallel channels. This model is used for transmission over block-fading channels, rate-compatible puncturing of turbo-like codes, multicarrier signaling, multilevel coding, etc. New upper bounds on the maximum-likelihood (ML) decoding error probability are derived in the parallel-channel setting. We focus on the generalization of the Gallager-type bounds and discuss the connections between some versions of these bounds. The tightness of these bounds for parallel channels is exemplified for structured ensembles of turbo codes, repeat-accumulate (RA) codes, and some of their recent variations (e.g., punctured accumulate-repeat-accumulate codes). The bounds on the decoding error probability of an ML decoder are compared to computer simulations of iterative decoding. The new bounds show a remarkable improvement over the union bound and some other previously reported bounds for independent parallel channels. This improvement is exemplified for relatively short block lengths, and it is pronounced when the block length is increased. In the asymptotic case, where we let the block length tend to infinity, inner bounds on the attainable channel regions of modern coding techniques under ML decoding are obtained, based solely on the asymptotic growth rates of the average distance spectra of these code ensembles.