Three car bombs exploded in rapid succession in Shiite Muslim neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital late Saturday, killing as many as 40 people as U.S. airstrikes continued to hit Islamic State militants in western and northern Iraq.
The car bombings shattered a brief respite from violence in Baghdad at the end an extended holiday after Eid al-Adha, the Islamic feast of sacrifice marking the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni Muslim-led Islamic State has carried out bombings in Shiite neighborhoods.
Like previous car bombings here since Islamic State began capturing large swaths of territory in Iraq this year, the attacks seemed intended to sow terror in the capital as the Iraqi government struggles to maintain control of the country nearly three years after U.S. combat forces departed.
The car bombs struck as the U.S. Central Command announced Saturday that American aircraft had dropped loads of supplies to Iraqi government forces near a besieged major oil refinery near Baiji, north of Baghdad. A CENTCOM statement said the airdrops, made at the request of the Iraqi government, supplied Iraqi security forces with 16 containers of food, water and 16,000 pounds of ammunition.
U.S. aircraft, backed by planes from the Netherlands, also destroyed an Islamic State vehicle and attacked Islamic State fighters in two strikes north of Tall Afar in northwestern Iraq, the statement said. Also hit were two Islamic State units near the western Euphrates River city of Hit, seized by the militants last week.
U.S. and coalition airstrikes since Aug. 8 have failed to halt the advances of Islamic State fighters, who control most of Sunni-dominated Anbar province west of Baghdad, the gateway to the capital. U.S.-trained Iraqi government forces have collapsed or fled in the face of the militant advance in some areas, though government units continue to defend positions in Anbar on Baghdad's western outskirts.
In Baghdad, a suicide car bomb detonated at a government security checkpoint in a Shiite neighborhood Saturday evening, killing at least a dozen people, including three police officers, authorities said. More than two dozen were wounded.
At nightfall, a second car bomb exploded on a commercial street in a Shiite district in northwest Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 18.
A third suicide bomber detonated explosives a short time later in the same area amid a traffic snarl caused by the second bombing. At least 17 people were killed and 28 wounded, authorities said.
Also Saturday, officials in Iraq's northern Salahuddin province said Islamic State militants of Friday killed Raad al Azzawi, a cameraman for Iraq's Salahuddin Television, in the city of Tikrit. The group Reporters Without Borders said last month that Islamic State had threatened to kill Azzawi for refusing to support the militants. The journalist group said the reporter was abducted Sept. 7.