Iraqi army claims progress in Anbar, bombings hit Baghdad

Iraq’s army announced it was making progress in the battle against ISIS militants in Anbar province Sunday even as it struggled to retake territory lost over the weekend and a string of bombings rocked the capital.

After driving militants out of Tikrit earlier this month, Iraqi forces have turned their attention to Anbar, large parts of which have been under ISIS control for more than a year.

Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi said on Iraqi television that the army has achieved “90 percent” of its objectives in the town of Garma, between Baghdad and the ISIS-held city of Fallujah. He added that an operation had been launched to retake the water control station on a canal lost over the weekend.

“Our bold military units in Anbar are still holding their positions,” he said. “In the coming days, we will implement a well-organized plan to attack the enemy and drive it out of its positions seized in Anbar.”

The attack on the water control station on the canal between Lake Tharthar and the Euphrates River late Friday was a setback for the Iraqi military, killing the general commanding the 1st Division and a dozen other officers and soldiers. Obeidi said eight soldiers lost in the fighting had been recovered.

Militants in Baghdad also kept up the pressure on the Iraqi government with a string of bombing attacks in and around the capital that killed at least 22 people.

The deadliest attack came when a car packed with explosives was detonated at an army checkpoint near the town of al-Nukhaib, an outpost on the route to Syria and Saudi Arabia, killing at least seven soldiers, the sources said.

“ISIS terrorists used a suicide car bomb attack to distract our soldiers and then they clashed with soldiers, but we managed to repel the attack,” an army officer from Anbar operations command said.

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