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String of bomb attacks in Baghdad kill 18 people

The attacks come the same day Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said expelling Islamic State forces from Iraq could take up to five more years.

By Fred Lambert
String of bomb attacks in Baghdad kill 18 people
An Iraqi woman walks from the scene of a bomb blast in the Hurriya District, northwestern Baghdad, on April 23, 2010. A series of bombs killed 58 people, mainly targeting Shia worshipers. On June 9, 2015, a series of bombings in Baghdad killed at least 18 people. Islamic State forces, which control large swaths of the country, are the suspected culprits. File photo by Ali Jasim/UPI | License Photo

BAGHDAD, June 9 (UPI) -- A string of bombings killed at least 18 people in Iraq's capital on Tuesday, according to reports.

An unknown number of attacks, some against military personnel, occurred across Baghdad, including at a restaurant on Palestine Street, where an explosion killed eight people, the BBC reports.

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No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the Islamic State is suspected.

Earlier this month a car bomb detonated at a military base in IS-dominated Anbar province, killing more than 40 Iraqi soldiers.

Tuesday's attacks come the same day Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said efforts to expel IS fighters from Iraq could take up to five more years.

The Sunni extremist group seized large portions of the country last year, sending entire divisions of the Iraqi army into retreat and prompting a U.S.-led international coalition to begin bombing IS positions in Iraq and later Syria.

On June 3, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the coalition had so far killed about 10,000 IS fighters and reduced by 25 percent the amount of ground they held in Iraq since the previous August.

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IS forces, however, have still been able to make fresh gains in the county.

Last month IS fighters sent Iraqi soldiers, police and tribal fighters fleeing from the city of Ramadi.

The Baghdad government was able to retake Tikrit from the militants in late April, but it required the assistance of coalition airstrikes and Iran-trained Shia militias to do so. The militias were pulled from the city after reports of looting, arson and illegal killings.

Following the loss of Ramadi, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi activated the Shia militias once again for a planned offensive to retake the Anbar province's capital city.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the fall of Ramadi illustrated the Iraqi army's lack of will to fight, but Abadi, speaking at a 22-nation conference in Paris last week, said the IS advance in his country was "a failure of the world."

Abadi said air support was "not enough," and that there was "too little surveillance" of IS units, which are "mobile and move in very small groups." He said there was "a lot of talk of support for Iraq" but "very little on the ground."

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At the same conference, Blinken iterated that airstrikes and support for Iraqi ground forces was "the winning strategy," though he predicted it would be a "long campaign."

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