Iraqi Forces Push Into Fallujah as IS Bombings Kill 24

Iraqi Forces Push Into Fallujah as IS Bombings Kill 24Iraqi Forces Push Into Fallujah as IS Bombings Kill 24

Iraqi forces started pushing into the city of Fallujah on Monday as a wave of bombings claimed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Baghdad and near the Iraqi capital killed at least 24 people.

The advance is part of an offensive to rout militants from Fallujah and recapture the city west of Baghdad, which has been held by IS for over two years. The offensive on Fallujah, backed by paramilitary troops and aerial support from the US-led coalition, was first launched about a week ago, AP reported.

The battle for the strategic city is likely to be a protracted one, with Iraqi forces advancing slowly to minimize civilian casualties. Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be still inside the city, trapped by the fighting.

Meanwhile, the bombings by IS, which has been behind several recent deadly attacks in Baghdad and beyond, are seen as an attempt by the militants to distract the security forces' attention from the frontlines.

The deadliest of Monday's attacks took place in the northern, Shia-dominated Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint next to a commercial area, killing eight civilians and three soldiers. The explosion also wounded up to 14 people, a police officer said.