Iraq attacks: Isis thought to be responsible for wave of bombings that left 15 civilians dead

Two car bombs in Khalis and five blast around Baghdad bear all the hallmarks of the jihadist group who are battling Iraqi forces in the city of Ramadi

Sinan Salaheddin
Baghdad
Wednesday 23 December 2015 20:59 GMT
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Iraqi soldiers plant the national flag above a government building in Ramadi, 70 miles from Baghdad, on Monday
Iraqi soldiers plant the national flag above a government building in Ramadi, 70 miles from Baghdad, on Monday (AP)

Attacks across Iraq have killed at least 15 civilians as government forces pressed on with their offensive to dislodge Isis from the city of Ramadi.

The attacks bore the hallmarks of the Sunni jihadist group that has targeted Iraqi forces and civilians, especially Shia Muslims. Two car bombs in the Shia-majority town of Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, killed seven, while in and around the Iraqi capital five bombs went off in commercial areas, killing eight civilians and wounding 35, police said.

This comes a day after Iraqi forces reported recapturing parts of Ramadi from Isis. Their advance was slowed by snipers, roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said.

There is concern for civilians reportedly taken prisoner by Isis in an attempt to prevent an uprising in support of the government offensive. Brigadier General Rasool said some families trapped in Ramadi had managed to flee the city and reach safe areas.

When Isis took over Ramadi, the capital of the sprawling western Anbar province and Iraq’s Sunni heartland, in May it was the government’s biggest defeat since the jihadist group seized Mosul.

On Tuesday, Iraqi counter-terrorism forces pushed into the Dubbat and Aramil neighbourhoods, less than two miles from the city centre, according to General Ismail al-Mahallawi, head of operations in Anbar province. Iraqi air force and the US-led international coalition provided air support to troops on the ground, bombing Isis targets, he said.

Col Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US military in Baghdad, said there were 250 to 350 Isis fighters in Ramadi, and several hundred on the city’s northern and western perimeter. “I think the fall of Ramadi is inevitable,” he said, but he cautioned that it would take some time. “It’s going to be a tough fight,” he said.

Since overrunning Ramadi, Isis has destroyed all the bridges around the city. It also demolished the Anbar operations command and fanned out into residential areas.

The US and its allies conducted 24 air strikes against Isis in Iraq on Tuesday, the coalition leading the operations said in a statement, four of them near Ramadi.

AP

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