Iraq: Scores killed in suicide attack on popular Anbar cafe

At least 12 civilians were killed after a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew himself up inside a popular cafe, a military source told The New Arab.

Scores of people were killed in a suicide bombing in the the Iraqi town of Hit, west of Anbar on Wednesday, as Iraqi forces prepared to recapture the remaining Islamic State held areas of the province.

At least 12 civilians were killed and 14 others wounded after a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew himself up inside a popular cafe, according to a military source.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, however the bombing coincides with preparations for a military offensive to liberate Anbar from the Islamic State group, after recapturing swathes of land from the militants in recent months.

On Wednesday, Iraqi’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said IS will be completely defeated in Iraq this year.

“As I have promised to you all, this year will see the end of IS in Iraq,” Abadi said, just over a week after he announced the recapture of the extremists’ stronghold of Hawija.

“Members of IS are currently gripped with fear everywhere,” he added.

Last week, Iraqi forces retook one of the Islamic State group’s last two enclaves in the country, overrunning the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija after a two-week offensive.

IS once held one-third of Iraqi territory but it has suffered loss after loss this year and now only controls a slither of land in the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border.

The “final large fight” against IS in Iraq will take place on the border with Syria, a general in the US-led coalition against the extremists said on Saturday.

IS seized vast areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014, but multiple offensives in both countries have since cornered it in a pocket of territory stretching from Syria’s Deir az-Zour to the Iraqi towns of Rawa and al-Qaim.