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Baghdad blasts kill 6 as top Pentagon officials visit Iraq

Baghdad blasts kill 6 as top Pentagon officials visit Iraq
At least six people were killed and another 15 injured in three explosions across Baghdad. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, which come amid month-long popular unrest and a visit of top Pentagon officials to Iraq.

A motorcycle bomb in the northern Shaab district killed three and injured five on Tuesday, Reuters reported citing Iraqi security and medical sources. Another two people died and six were hurt when a second motorcycle exploded in the nearby Bayaa district. An improvised explosive device killed one person and injured four in the Baladiyat district in eastern Baghdad.

The blasts come as John C. Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, arrived in Iraq on Tuesday. Rood met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abd-al-Mahdi and Defense Minister Najah al-Shammary in Baghdad, before heading up to Erbil for meetings with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, was also in Iraq as part of his Middle East tour. 

According to the Department of Defense, Rood reiterated the US “commitment to Iraq’s security and sovereignty, and its support to the people of Iraq.”

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Iraq was invaded and occupied by the US in 2003, leading to an eight-year insurgency that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Though US forces had withdrawn by the end of 2011, they returned in 2014 to combat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists who claimed large parts of Iraq from the US-backed government. 

Rood discussed further cooperation against IS with the Iraqis, the Pentagon said, even though the self-proclaimed caliphate has been declared eliminated several times over already, and its leader said to have been killed in Syria last month.

The latest explosions also come amid widespread discontent with economic conditions inside Iraq and perceived US meddling in Baghdad’s internal affairs, which has drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets across the country. On November 16, a vehicle bomb detonated amid an anti-government protest, killing four people and injuring 20. No one claimed responsibility.

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