IRAQ: THREE SUICIDE BLASTS SEND DEATH TOLL TO 42

Three suicide bombings in Baghdad and a city to the west have killed at least 42 people, targeting Iraqis breaking their fast and elderly people collecting their pensions, officials said.

The Tuesday strikes came as forces fought to retake the last areas held by the Daesh group in their former stronghold of Mosul.

The first Daesh-claimed car bombing struck a Baghdad ice cream shop during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Iraqis often stay out late shopping or socialising after breaking their daily fast.

A second attack claimed by the group targeted the country's main pension office, while a third bombing was carried out at an army checkpoint in Hit, some 120 miles (200 km) west of Baghdad.

At the Al-Faqma ice cream parlour in the capital's central Karrada district, a police captain tried to prevent a small white pickup truck from approaching the area, but the driver kept going forward and then the truck exploded.

At least 16 people were killed and 75 injured in the attack.

Images posted on social media showed the devastating impact of the attack, which left ice cream cups scattered on the blood-stained ground.

Karrada was hit by a massive truck bomb in July 2016 that killed at least 324 people, the deadliest attack in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

In the second strike, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle near Iraq's main pension office, which is close to one of the principal bridges over the River Tigris, said the Baghdad Operations Command.

The blast killed at least 11 people and wounded at least 40, officials said.

The bombing at the Hit checkpoint killed 15 people, including four soldiers and a journalist, while 23 others were injured, Anas al-Ani, spokesman for the department of health in Anbar province said.

The Iraqi chain Asiasat TV said its journalist Souhaib al-Hiti had died in the attack, for which no group has yet claimed responsibility.

The bombings in Baghdad come as Iraqi forces fight to retake the last Daesh-held areas of Mosul, a city that was the group's emblematic stronghold.

Iraqi forces are more than seven months into a massive operation to recapture the city, and have already taken back its whole eastern side and much of the west.

Three neighbourhoods north of Mosul's Old City -- Al-Shifaa, Al-Saha and Al-Zinjili -- are now the target of a broad assault by Iraqi soldiers, police and special forces that was launched last week.

Daesh is mainly relying on "snipers and suicide bombers" to target Iraqi forces, as it is running low on mortar rounds and explosives after losing sites it previously used to produce them, Iraqi Brigadier General Shakir Kadhim Mohsen said.

It is now besieged in an enclave in the northern city of Mosul, which it has used as its de facto capital in Iraq. Daesh declared a "caliphate" over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

The United Nations has warned that up to 200,000 civilians who are believed to remain in Daesh-held areas of the city are in grave danger and that large numbers could flee.

Source: NAM News Network