Two senior Iraqi military commanders were killed on Thursday in suicide car bomb attacks claimed by Islamic State in Anbar province where pro-government forces are battling the insurgents, a military spokesman and police sources said.
The military and police, backed by Shi’ite militias, Sunni tribal fighters and U.S.-led coalition air strikes, are fighting to retake the city, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, from the radical Sunni insurgents. Progress has been slow.
Deputy commander of Anbar Operations Command Major-General Abdel Rahman Abu Ragheef and Brigadier Safeen Abdel Majeed, head of the tenth division, were killed in the attack in the Jerayshi area north of Ramadi along with three other people, said joint operations spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool.
He told state TV the military had intercepted a explosives-laden vehicle targeting the forces, “but the resulting explosion led to (their) martyrdom”. At least 10 others were wounded in the explosion, he said.
In a statement distributed online by supporters, Islamic State said it had targeted a main military headquarters, “seeking revenge” for the killing of a senior fighter in a nearby battle.
It said the attack involved four car bombs and machinegun fire and killed tens of “rejectionist” officers and soldiers – as the group refers to Shi’ite Muslims.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi mourned the commanders’ deaths and said they would “increase our resolve and determination to defeat our enemy and avenge every drop of blood”.
Separately, three people were killed in a suicide car bomb targeting a police checkpoint in the town of Bajwa, 15 km (10 miles) northwest of Kirkuk. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault.