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Iraqis Advance in Mosul as Bomb South of Baghdad Kills 21

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of I.S.
By The News · 24 of November 2016 08:51:22
An Iraqi soldier stand guards in front of rounded up scores of male residents and sat them on the ground, urging them to come out with information of any Islamic State members among them, An Iraqi soldier stand guards in front of rounded up scores of male residents and sat them on the ground, urging them to come out with information of any Islamic State members among them, in Gogjali neighborhood, in Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016. An Iraqi officer addressed the group, demanding to know the whereabouts of alleged IS militants who opened fire on troops a few days earlier. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla), photo: AP/Hussein Malla

Iraqi troops on Thursday drove Islamic State group (I.S.) militants from three more neighborhoods in the northern city of Mosul, a commander said, as a bomb south of Baghdad killed at least 21 people, including 10 Iranian pilgrims.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the special forces said that his men have retaken the neighborhoods of Amn, Qahira and Green Apartments and were expanding their foothold in the densely populated district of Zohour.

The neighborhoods are all east of the Tigris River, where most of the fighting has taken place since the government’s campaign to liberate the city began last month. A U.S.-led coalition is carrying out airstrikes to support the troops.

Hospital and police officials said the bombing, at a gas station near the town of Hilla, wounded another 32 people. They said it appeared to have targeted a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims heading home after taking part in a major Shiite religious observance in the holy city of Karbala. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of I.S., which often targets Iraq’s Shiite majority. The Sunni extremists have continued to stage attacks across the country despite the heavy fighting in Mosul, which fell to I.S. in the summer of 2014.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi meanwhile flew to an airstrip outside the town of Tal Afar, to the west of Mosul, on a previously unannounced visit on Thursday, according to footage aired by the state-owned Iraqiya television network. The airstrip was seized from I.S. by state-sanctioned Shiite militiamen earlier this week.