BAGHDAD (AP) — Government forces and Shiite militiamen repelled two Islamic State group attacks in Anbar province on Saturday, officials said. In one attack, they used anti-tank missiles to stop four would-be suicide car bombers, officials said, as violence continues to roil the war-torn country.
Police and military officials said IS fighters attacked the government-held town of Husseiba with heavy mortar fire early Saturday. They say the attackers retreated after an hours-long battle, leaving behind three destroyed vehicles and five dead fighters. At least 10 troops and militiamen were wounded in the clash.
Iraqi forces took Husseiba, near the militant-held provincial capital of Ramadi, from the IS group last month.
The officials said that elsewhere in Anbar province, Iraqi troops using Russian anti-tank Kornet missiles destroyed four incoming suicide car bombs during an IS attack in the Tharthar area.
Iraqi forces, backed by Shiite militias, have been struggling to recapture areas lost to the IS group in the country’s west and north. Last month the militant group scored a stunning victory, overrunning Ramadi and capturing large amounts of ammunition and armored vehicles from fleeing government troops.
In the aftermath of the Ramadi defeat, Iraqi officials have stepped up calls for more weapons and more direct support from the U.S. and the international community.
During an international conference in Paris this week on the fight against the Islamic State group, a senior U.S. official pledged to make it easier to get weapons, including U.S. anti-tank rockets, to the Iraqi soldiers that need them.
Meanwhile, police and medical officials said a series of bombings around the country killed 24 people and wounded at least 65.
A car bomb attack near a busy market killed 14 people and wounded 37 others in the Shiite town of Balad Ruz, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Several shops and cars were damaged in the attack. Police sealed off the blast area.
Around the capital, police said a bomb exploded on a commercial street in the Taji area, just north of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding five. Another bomb blast near several shops killed three people and wounded eight in the capital’s southern suburbs.
On Saturday night, a sticky bomb attached to a mini-bus went off in northeastern Baghdad, killing three passengers and wounding seven others. Also, a bomb explosion at a commercial street in Baghdad’s Shaab district killed two people and wounded eight others, said police.
Medics in nearby hospitals confirmed the death toll. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
Nobody claimed responsibility but the Islamic State group, which controls large swaths of the country, frequently claims attacks targeting security forces and Shiite Muslims — who the IS group deems heretics.
Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.