Car bombs kill at least 18 civilians in Iraq

Car bombs ripped through commercial areas in and around the Iraqi capital

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Militants unleashed a wave of bombings on Sunday targeting commercial areas in and around the Iraqi capital, killing at least 18 civilians, officials said, as clashes continued between government forces and Islamic State militants in the western province of Anbar.

Baghdad sees near-daily bombings mainly targeting security forces and the country's Shiite majority. The Islamic State group and other Sunni extremists are believed to be behind the attacks.

The deadliest attack took place in Baghdad's Khilani Square, where a car bomb killed at least seven people and wounded 25, a police officer said. The car was parked near a Sunni mosque and a gathering of motorcycle vendors.

Hours earlier, an explosives-laden car exploded in the town of Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, killing at least four civilians, another police officer said.

Three people were killed and 13 wounded in another car bomb explosion in Baghdad's southwestern Amil neighborhood, he added, while two others were killed in a blast in the nearby Bayaa district.

In the capital's eastern suburb of Husseiniyah, a bomb went off in an outdoor market, killing two civilians and wounding six others, police added.

Medical officials confirmed the toll. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Government forces are also struggling to dislodge Islamic State militants from the western province of Anbar and much of northern Iraq.

In an interview with state TV, Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim, said government forces were close to recapturing the town of Garma, just east of the IS-held city of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital.

Ibrahim added that fighting was also ongoing to dislodge the militants from the canal lock system near Lake Tharthar just to the north, which IS forces hit on Friday, killing the army's 1st Division commander and around a dozen other soldiers and officers.

On Saturday, IS militants attacked a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan with three suicide car bombs, killing four Iraqi soldiers.