A spate of bombings across Baghdad killed at least 24 people yesterday, two days after the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took office one year ago.
In the Shia district of Habibiya, 15 people were killed when a car bomb exploded near an open area where cars are displayed for sale.
“The investigation, based on footage from a surveillance camera, showed a man parking a white car and sneaking into a nearby tea kiosk. Five minutes later the car exploded,” said police officer Murtatha Abid Ali at the scene of the explosion, which wounded a further 35 people.
Habibiya is near Sadr City, where more than 70 people were killed in a massive truck bomb blast claimed by Islamic State (IS) on Thursday.
Two more people were killed and seven wounded in a bomb blast targeting vehicle repair shops in Taji to the north of the capital. Other blasts in busy commercial streets and markets in Jisr Diyala, Madaen and Iskan killed seven.
Security forces and militia groups are fighting IS in Anbar province, the sprawling Sunni heartland in western Iraq. In Baghdad, Abadi has proposed sweeping reforms aimed at reducing corruption and patronage, the biggest changes to the political system since the end of US military occupation.
A US military spokesman said on Friday Iraqi troops are more than halfway through an operation to encircle IS militants in Ramadi, after which they will launch a final offensive to retake the city.
Air Force Colonel Pat Ryder, a US Central Command spokesman, said Iraqi forces were making progress in the fourth week of their effort to isolate and cut off IS fighters, who captured Ramadi three months ago in their biggest victory this year.
“The objective here is to cut off ISIL’s lines of communications to prevent or limit their resupply and reinforcement,” Ryder, using an acronym for the militant group, said in a telephone briefing with Pentagon reporters.
He said Iraqi troops were engaged in “tough, dangerous work” to encircle the city and then prevent IS from bringing in more troops or supplies.
The militants were trying to slow or stop Iraqi forces with hidden explosive devices, improvised explosives in vehicles, suicide bombers and fighters, Ryder said. The Iraqis have used armoured bulldozers and other specialised equipment to remove explosives.
“The Iraqis are continuing to move forward, executing this complex operation as they had planned it,” Ryder said. “They have ... a good plan. They’re executing that plan at the timeline they have set for themselves.”
He said the aim was to completely encircle Ramadi before the operation’s next phase: retaking the city, which is the capital of Anbar.
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