Suicide attack kills 27 south of Baghdad

US led nearly a dozen air strikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq

Iraqi security forces drive insurgents out of Jurf al-Sakhar, where at least 27 Shia militiamen died in a suicide bomb attack. Photograph: Reuters

A suicide bomber has killed at least 27 Shia militiamen on the outskirts of the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakhar after security forces pushed Islamic State militants out of the area over the weekend.

The attacker, driving a Humvee packed with explosives and probably stolen from defeated government troops, also wounded 60 Shia militiamen, who had helped government forces retake the town just south of the capital.

Holding Jurf al-Sakhar is critical for Iraqi security forces, which finally managed to drive out the Sunni insurgents after months of fighting.

It could allow Iraqi forces to prevent the Sunni insurgents from edging closer to Baghdad, sever connections to their strongholds in western Anbar province and stop them infiltrating the mainly Shia Muslim south.

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The group has threatened to march on Baghdad, home to special forces and thousands of Shia militias expected to put up fierce resistance if the capital comes under threat.

The United States led nearly a dozen air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq on Sunday and yesterday, including the besieged Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters made advances over the weekend against Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East and is determined to redraw the map of the region. – (Reuters)