BAGHDAD: A suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed two Iraqi generals on Thursday in the key battleground province of Anbar, as the jihadists made gains in northern Syria.
IS overran large areas of Iraq in 2014 and seized Anbar capital Ramadi earlier this year. It also controls major territory in neighbouring Syria, where it has thrived amid a bloody civil war.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said a suicide bomber in an explosives-rigged vehicle struck the Al-Jaraishi area north of Ramadi as Iraqi forces advanced.
The attack killed the deputy head of the Anbar Operations Command, Staff Major General Abdulrahman Abu Raghif, and 10th Division commander Staff Brigadier General Safin Abdulmajid, Rasool said.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement online, but gave a different account of how it unfolded, saying it was carried out by four suicide bombers and two supporting gunmen who targeted the main command headquarters north of Ramadi.
It said all six of the jihadists were killed.
A statement from the Iraqi Joint Operations Command confirmed the deaths of the two officers along with an unspecified number of other “heroic martyrs”.
The death or injury of senior Iraqi officers during battles against IS is a persistent problem for the country.
Two heads of the Anbar Operations Command have been wounded this year, while the commanders of a division and a brigade were killed in Anbar in April. The province’s governor was wounded in 2014.
Senior army and police commanders have also been killed in other Iraqi provinces since IS launched its devastating offensive in June 2014, sweeping security forces aside.