At least 10 people were killed when two car bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Saturday, while security forces continued their battles against the Islamic State (IS) militant group across the country, security sources said.
The two back-to-back car bombs went off near a fuel station in the predominantly Shiite district of al-Amil in southern Baghdad, leaving at least 10 people dead and some 34 others wounded, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Separately, Iraqi security forces continued fierce battles against the IS militant group, an al-Qaida offshoot, in north and west of Baghdad.
In Salahudin province, teams of explosive experts are working on defusing dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped houses in the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, a day after an army force, policemen and Shiite militiamen managed to seize part of the town, a source from provincial operations command anonymously told Xinhua.
"The troops are close to free the whole town of Baiji after the elimination of the terrorists soon," the source said.
On Friday, security forces backed by aircraft seized the central part of Baiji and raised the Iraqi flag on the local government building after fierce clashes, during which the IS militants blew up four suicide car bombs, killing Major General Faisal al-Zamili, commander of a federal police brigade, and several officers and soldiers.
In Iraq's western province of Anbar, security forces backed by allied Sunni tribesmen and Shiite militias carried out an offensive against IS militants who captured the town of Heet, some 160 km west of Baghdad, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
The troops recaptured several villages around the town of Heet in the afternoon after clashes with the IS militants who fled their positions and resorted to the town, the source said, adding that the troops are preparing to start a major battle in Heet itself to free it from the extremist militants.
Elsewhere, security forces backed by aircraft started an offensive against the IS militants in Abu Ghraib area, just west of Baghdad, late on Friday, and managed on Saturday to recapture the villages of Dwyleiba and Muheisna in the southern part of Abu Ghraib after fierce clashes, a security source told Xinhua.
The battles in Abu Ghraib area, forced dozens of families to flee their homes by the heavy clashes and bombardments, the source said.
The IS group has seized around 80 percent of Iraq's largest province of Anbar and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shiite militias have pushed them away from areas west of the capital, which contains a large Shiite population and is heavily fortified by security forces and Shiite militias.
Since December last year, insurgent attacks have continued in the Sunni Arab heartland in west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province, which has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside the city of Ramadi. The security situation began to drastically deteriorate in the country on June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State which took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.