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Islamic State suicide bombers kill dozens in and around Baghdad

A pair of Islamic State suicide bombings around Baghdad have left at least 27 people dead. The blasts came as US-backed Iraqi forces press ahead with an assault on the IS stronghold of Fallujah.

At least 15 civilians were killed in the commercial section of the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of al-Jadida in eastern Baghdad. Twelve more - seven civilians and five troops - were killed at an army checkpoint 12 miles (20 km) north of the city, in Taji, according to police and medical workers.

"Islamic State" (IS), the Sunni denominated militants, claimed responsibility for both bombings, saying the Baghdad attack targeted Shiite militia members while the Taji bombing targeted the Iraqi arm.

The veracity of the claims could not immediately be confirmed, but they appeared on a website often used by militants.

The Sunni militant group often targets Iraq's Shiite majority, as well as security forces and government officials.

Such attacks in Baghdad have become a near-daily occurrence in recent weeks, as

the Iraqi army continues its assault on the IS stronghold of Fallujah,

less than 40 miles (60 kilometers) west of Baghdad.

The deadly attacks in and around the capital are seen as an attempt by the jihadis to distract Iraqi security forces from the fighting on the front lines - now in Fallujah.

Battles continue in Fallujah, Manbij

Watch video 00:40

Iraq: the battle for Fallujah shifts to city centre

The Iraqi army launched a large-scale military assault on Fallujah last month, and their attack was bolstered yesterday by the addition of Iraqi special forces.

Fallujah is one of the last major IS strongholds in western Iraq

, but the militants still control territory in the country's north and west, as well as the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

The militant's strongholds are under attack on multiple fronts.

US-backed local forces in Syria are pushing into the strategic town of Manbij.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have closed all major roads into the city and have it blockaded on three sides.

Watch video 04:22

Defeating IS in Iraq

A statement by the Military Council of the City of Manbij,

part of the SDF, said Thursday that all roads from the east, north and south have been cut.

The group said they are close enough to target IS inside the town but they are delaying their assault on Manbij to avoid civilian casualties.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said SDF fighters are less than half-a-mile (800 meters) from

the last main road linking Manbij with the city of Aleppo.

That road is now closed by military fire.

bik/sms (AP, dpa)

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