06 October 2015
(This article originally appeared on the Voice of America website)
The special U.S. envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State) is in the Iraqi capital for talks on the coalition’s support of Iraqi-led efforts to degrade and defeat the terrorist group.
Retired Marine General John Allen arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday for meetings with senior Iraqi government and security officials. In addition to Islamic State, the discussions are involving other developments in the region.
This comes as IS claimed responsibility for one of several bombs that exploded Monday across Iraq and left at least 57 people dead. The Sunni extremists said Tuesday they were targeting Shi’ites with a car bomb that blew up near a market in the southern town of al-Zubair, near Basra.
Monday’s deadliest attack happened in Khalis, a majority Shi’ite town located about 80 kilometers northeast of the capital, Baghdad. That car bomb killed 35 people. Another car bomb in the Husainiya district on the outskirts of Baghdad killed 12 people.
Deaths of civilians and Iraqi troops due to terrorism and armed conflict spiked sharply in Iraq last year as the Islamic State swept through large areas in the northern and western parts of the country, but have fallen slightly through the first nine months of this year. At this point in 2014, about 12,000 people were killed compared to 10,000 this year, according to United Nations data.
The biggest difference in 2015 has been the toll on Iraq’s security forces, which made up 23 percent of last year’s deaths but more than 40 percent through the end of September this year.