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Iraq: Western Mosul offensive launched against IS

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of an offensive on the western side of Mosul against the so-called Islamic State.

Earlier, Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets on western Mosul warning residents that the offensive was imminent. The ongoing conflict in Mosul has forced 178.000 civilians to flee to refugee camps.

Iraqi forces retook control of east Mosul from IS in January. The defeat of the group in Mosul would effectively end the Iraqi half of the "caliphate".

Haider al-Abadi said: "We announce the start of a new chapter of Mosul operations to liberate the right side of Nineveh (Mosul) as we did with the other parts."



At least 24 killed in Baghdad market place car bombing

The scene of the car bombing. Credit: APTN

At least 24 people have been killed and 67 wounded in Baghdad after a suicide car bombing in a busy market place.

The attack comes just hours after French President Francois Hollande arrived in the country.

A police officer said the suicide bomber attacked drove a pickup truck and attacked a fruit and vegetable market.

So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, just two days after 29 people were killed in three bombings across the city, while on Sunday a suicide bombing killed seven police officers at a military checkpoint south of the Iraqi capital.

The Amaq news agency, which supports so-called Islamic State, reported that the attack had targeted Shi'ites who the terrorist organisation believes are apostates.

During a press conference with President Hollande, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the bomber pretended to be a man seeking to hire day laborers; once the laborers gathered around, he detonated the vehicle.

Mr Al-Abadi warned that the "terrorists will further try to hit civilians to make up for the losses," they have suffered on the battlefield.

"We are determined to annihilate terrorism and we are able to shorten its age," he said, calling on security forces and civilians to remain vigilant.

Two blasts kill 21 and injure more than 40 in Baghdad

At least 21 people were killed in the blasts. Credit: AP

Two bombs exploded at a busy market in Baghdad Saturday, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 40 others, authorities said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but so-called Islamic State regularly targets civilians in the Iraqi capital.

Police said the blasts happened near car spare parts shops - one was a suicide bomber, and the other a planted explosive.

IS has lost much of the northern and western territory in Iraq that it seized in 2014, and is now fighting an Iraqi offensive in Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.

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