Iraq’s prime minister vowed Tuesday to press forward with the fight against Islamic State extremists, as he toured the wreckage of a Baghdad shopping mall hit by suicide bombers a day earlier.
Haider al-Abadi described Monday’s attack, which killed at least 24 people and wounded dozens more, as a «desperate attempt» by IS fighters who were driven from the western city of Ramadi by Iraqi forces late last month.
A separate attack Monday north of Baghdad linked to Islamic State Sunni fighters killed at least 23 others.
The latest violence against Shi’ites triggered a series of apparent retaliatory attacks Tuesday. Authorities said as many as seven Sunni mosques and dozens of shops in Iraq’s east were firebombed, as the Baghdad government faced its worst uptick in deadly violence since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
The U.S. State Department called the attacks «barbaric acts of terrorism,» and a spokesman reiterated U.S. commitment to supporting Iraq in defeating the militants.
«These attacks once again display the utter disregard ISIL has for the lives of innocent civilians,» said spokesman John Kirby, using an acronym for Islamic State. «We stand united with the Iraqi people as they confront the scourge of violent extremism.»
Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, are working to reclaim territory Islamic State seized after sweeping through large areas of western and northern Iraq in mid-2014. They recaptured Ramadi last month, and Abadi said the next focus would be Mosul, the country’s second-largest city.