Baghdad Attacks Signal Iraqi Forces Stretched Thin Against IS

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -

Islamic State’s deadliest attacks for months in and around Baghdad could be a sign that Iraqi forces are stretched thin after recent advances to reclaim territory from the group, according to some military commanders and a provincial official.

Iraqi forces backed by air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition retook the northern city of Baiji in October and then Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, at the end of last year.

But the government’s determination to move on to Mosul in the far north this year has prevented the military from consolidating gains on the northern and eastern outskirts of Ramadi, said the commanders.

They said this has allowed Islamic State fighters to regroup and continue sending weapons from deep inside the “caliphate” to Falluja and Garma — areas just west of Baghdad where security officials said the recent attacks were launched from.

At least 40 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a funeral in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, while a suicide blast at a security checkpoint in Baghdad’s western outskirts killed eight members of the security forces, police said on Monday. A further 58 people were wounded, the sources said.

A twin suicide bombing in the Sadr City district of Baghdad killed 78 people on Sunday. Islamic State also said it was behind an assault on police and army positions in the western outskirts of Abu Ghraib, which killed 24 security forces and gave the insurgents control of the country’s largest grain silo for most of the day.