Baghdad auto bomb kills at least 15: Ministry official

Posted March 21, 2017

A auto bomb blast killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 45 others in a mainly Shia district in southern Baghdad today, police and medical sources said.

Islamic State has recently intensified its campaign of violence in the capital while a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi forces extends its advances against the group in Mosul.

The attack targeted a commercial area in Baghdad's southwestern Amil neighbourhood, police and hospital officials said.

The radical Sunni jihadist group is under assault in both Iraq - in the country's second city Mosul which IS seized in June 2014 - and in neighboring Syria. A series of large-scale bombings claimed by IS have struck Baghdad since the operation to retake Mosul began.Iraqi and coalition officials have repeatedly warned that IS will return to its insurgent roots as it loses territory. The offensive was launched previous year in October and is supported by a US-backed coalition.

But as ISIL has lost ground in Iraq, it has also retained the ability to stage regular attacks there.

Iraqi troops are closing in on Mosul's old city, where some of the fiercest fighting is expected to unfold.

The attacks came as the Iraqi security forces backed by anti-IS worldwide coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out the IS militants from its last major stronghold in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.