At least 22 people were killed in explosions across Iraq late Sunday, including a suicide car bomb attack on a military post in western Anbar province, police and medical sources said.
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 western neighbors Syria and Saudi Arabia, killing at least seven soldiers, the sources said.
“Deash 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 told Reuters, using a derogatory acronym for Islamic State.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but Shi’ite areas and government forces are often targeted by Sunni Islamist insurgents the government is struggling to dislodge from large sections of the north and west.
Another six people were killed and 17 others wounded when a car bomb went off near Khilani Square in central Baghdad, police and medical sources said.
Six more people were killed in bomb attacks in Baghdad’s predominantly Shi’ite districts of Amil, Hussainiya and Bayaa, the sources said. A car bomb killed three people and wounded seven in the town of Mahmoudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police sources said.
Elsewhere in Iraq, Islamic State militants attacked Baiji, the country’s largest refinery, on Saturday evening using mortars and machine guns fixed to pickup trucks, security officials said.
The assault came a day after the radical militants took partial control of a water dam and military barracks guarding it in Anbar and detonated three suicide car bombs at a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.
“Daesh attacked the northern gate of the refinery, but we managed to repel the attack and prevented them from infiltrating our defenses,” an army officer from the refinery said by phone.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s army announced it was making progress in the battle against Islamic State militants in Anbar province Sunday, despite the string of bombings in Baghdad.
After driving militants out of the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month, Iraqi forces have turned their attention to Anbar province, large parts of which have been under Islamic State control for more than a year. The see-saw conflict has seen both sides take and lose territory.
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 Islamic State-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.
Also, U.S.-led forces targeted Islamic State militants in Syria with seven air strikes from Friday to Saturday morning and conducted 16 strikes against the group in Iraq, the U.S. military said.