Islamic State says it struck Syria's Raqqa with car bomb

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In Baghdad, several explosions in Shia-majority areas kill six people

Advertising banners hang in street of Syria's Raqqa, where civilians still live in fear of bombings (AFP)
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Monday 5 November 2018 7:13 UTC
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A car bomb exploded near a military position in Syria's Raqqa on Sunday, local authorities and a war monitor said, and the Islamic State (IS) group claimed it was behind the blast.

The blast came a day after the assassination of a local council leader in the city, the former Syrian capital of the militant group's self-declared caliphate, which was seized a year ago by US-backed Kurdish-led fighters, Reuters said.

Raqqa security forces said a civilian had been killed and several people, including civilians and fighters, were wounded. The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the blast caused "a large number" of casualties.

IS said in a statement that it had detonated the bomb, targeting fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia, the strongest element in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) group that drove the militants from Raqqa last year.

The SDF is battling IS militants in one of their last patches of territory in Syria, along the north bank of the Euphrates River close to the Iraqi border.

Blasts in Baghdad

Meanwhile, there were several explosions in Shia-majority districts in Iraq's capital late Sunday that killed six people - most of them civilians - and wounded others, police and medical sources said.

In northern Baghdad's Aden roundabout area, two civilians were killed and six wounded by a blast near a bus stop, the sources told AFP. 

A bomb in the nearby Tarmiyah neighbourhood targeted a military convoy, killing a soldier and wounding two others.

A government employee was killed in the southwestern area of al-Sahha when explosives attached under his car were detonated, according to a police officer and medical source. 

In the eastern district of Sadr City, two people were killed and four wounded in two explosions in the conservative Shia neighbourhood. 

And two other blasts went off on buses in other parts of Baghdad's northeast, wounding seven.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the explosions.

Battle with IS

IS overran large areas of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in the land it controlled.

The group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries. 

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor that contains Hajin, Sousa and al-Shaafa.

Iraq security forces have launched several campaigns to flush out the last remaining IS militants from sparsely populated areas from which they have continued to mount sporadic attacks.

The vast desert that straddles the border with Syria on either side of the Euphrates Valley town of al-Qaim has been one of IS's main hideouts. 

Hisham al-Hashemi, a researcher focusing on militant groups, told AFP there are about 2,000 IS militants still active in Iraq.