Attacks in and around Baghdad kill at least 17
BAGHDAD— Militants unleashed a wave of attacks targeting commercial areas in and around Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 17 people, officials said, as Iraqi troops poised to recapture the Islamic State ( IS)- held city of Fallujah, west of Iraq’s capital.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which bore the hallmarks of the extremist IS, which has been behind recent deadly attacks in Baghdad and beyond. Such attacks are seen as an attempt by the militants to distract the security forces’ attention away from the front lines.
The deadliest of Monday’s attacks took place in the northern, Shiite- dominated Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber rammed his explosivesladen car into a checkpoint next to a commercial area, killing five civilians and three soldiers.
The explosion also wounded up to 14 people, a police officer said.
A suicide car bomber struck an outdoor market in the town of Tarmiyah, about 50 kilometers north of Baghdad, killing four civilians and two policemen, another police officer said, adding that 19 people were wounded in that bombing.
And in Baghdad’s eastern Shiite Sadr City district, a bomb motorcycle went off at a market, killing three and wounding 10, police said. Medical officials confirmed casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
The attacks came amid a key Iraqi military operation to dislodge IS militants and retake Fallujah, which has been in IS hands for over two years. The operation was launched a week ago, with Iraqi forces teaming up with paramilitary troops and backed by aerial support from the US- led coalition.
The city is one of the last major IS strongholds in western Iraq. The extremist group still controls territory in the country’s north and west, as well as Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
On Sunday Iraqi Maj. Dhia Thamir said troops have recaptured 80 percent of the territory around Fallujah since the operation began and are currently battling IS to the northeast, as they seek to tighten the siege ahead of a planned final push into the city center.