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Iraqi officials say Baghdad bombing kills at least 23

MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2017, 11:13 A.M.

BAGHDAD – A suicide car bombing in Baghdad killed at least 23 people on Monday and wounded 45 others, according to Iraqi officials.

The attack targeted a commercial area in Baghdad’s southwestern Amil neighborhood, police and hospital officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group has been behind previous Baghdad bombings.

Iraqi forces have been battling the extremists in Mosul, the country’s second largest city, since October. Iraq declared eastern Mosul “fully liberated” in January and is now fighting for the more densely populated western half.

Iraqi troops are closing in on Mosul’s old city, where some of the fiercest fighting is expected to unfold. The militarized Federal Police say they are some 500 meters (yards) from al-Nuri mosque, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance in July 2014, announcing a self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The militants have suffered a string of defeats over the past two years, but have continued to regularly launch attacks in and around Baghdad. 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.