BAGHDAD - Militants unleashed a wave of suicide attacks across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 29 people and wounding dozens, as military officials in Iraq and Syria celebrate battlefield gains against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)
As Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition have advanced against ISIS on a number of fronts in recent months, extremists have retaliated with a number of large scale bombings targeting civilians.
Iraqi officials said troops have recaptured a key village outside the ISIS-held city of Mosul after days of heavy fighting.
Lt. Col. Mohammed al-Wagaa of the Iraqi army said troops retook the village of al-Nasr, near the Tigris river, on Monday, after destroying six suicide car bombers that had tried to attack them.
He said a Sunni tribal leader, Sheikh Faris al-Sabawi, was killed by an ISIS sniper who stayed behind in the village. Al-Sabawi commanded hundreds of Sunni fighters and received aid from the Baghdad government.
The Iraqi army, along with pro-government militias, launched an offensive last month aimed at retaking Mosul, the country's second largest city, which was captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014. The final battle for Mosul is expected to be a pivotal moment in the fight against ISIS.
Their progress in villages outside the city has been slowed by roadside bombs and other booby traps.
The approach of Iraqi forces to an ISIS stronghold in Iraq is happening at the same time as Syrian troops make key gains on their march towards ISIS' de facto capital of Raqqa.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said its consulate in Mosul was destroyed by U.S.-led coalition jets because it had been occupied by ISIS fighters since they captured the city.
In a statement issued Monday morning, the ministry said "Turkey's views and approval were taken at all stages concerning the preparation and execution" of this operation.
The statement said coalition war planes carried out the strikes at 3 a.m. Monday. It did not specify the countries involved.
ISIS seized 49 Turkish hostages, including Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz and other diplomats, when it overrun Mosul in spring 2014. The hostages were later released, freeing up Turkey to take a more active role in the war against ISIS.
The deadliest suicide attack on Monday took place in the southern province of Dhi Qar when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a restaurant that is frequented by Shiite paramilitary militia fighters, killing at least 14 people.
Another 27 people were wounded in the attack on the well-known restaurant, which is located on the main highway that links the capital, Baghdad, with the southern provinces, a police officer said.
Dhi Qar is located about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad
At around the same time, a suicide car bomber set off his explosives-laden vehicle in a commercial area in the oil-rich city of Basra, killing at least five people and wounding 10 others, another police officer said.
Pieces of flesh and debris littered the bloodstained pavement as thick black smoke billowed from the area. The attack also damaged up to 30 cars.
Basra is located about 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a security checkpoint in the capital's northeastern suburb of Sadr al-Qanat, killing six troops and wounding 13 others.
Another suicide car bomber hit a headquarters of paramilitary troops in the town of Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad, killing four troops and wounding 10 others.
Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
ISIS seized much of northern and western in Iraq in the summer of 2014 and established a self-styled Islamic caliphate in the areas of Iraq and Syria under its control, imposing a violent version of Islamic law.
According to the United Nations figures, at least 1,119 Iraqis were killed and 1,561 were wounded in March, a sharp increase from the previous month, when 670 people were killed and 1,290 wounded. The figures include 575 civilians killed and another 1,196 wounded. The other casualties were Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga and government-allied militiamen.
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