A senior military commander says the advance of government forces in the Islamic State-held city of Ramadi is being hampered by suicide bombers, snipers and booby traps.
Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, the head of Iraqi military operations in Anbar, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the militants attacked with suicide car bombers, but they were detonated before reaching their targets.
Al-Mahlawi added that his forces "need time" to dislodge the militants from the capital of Anbar province in the face of snipers and mined buildings. He said around 50 families who had been trapped inside Ramadi had managed to reach safe areas under government control.
On Tuesday, the government reported progress in recapturing some areas in Ramadi from the militants who control about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Meanwhile, a wave of attacks Wednesday killed at least 15 civilians as government forces pressed on with their offensive to dislodge the militants from the city west of Baghdad, officials said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, though they bore the hallmarks of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that has targeted Iraqi forces, civilians and especially Shiites.
In the Shiite-majority town of Khalis, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Iraqi capital, two explosives-laden cars were detonated. The first car was parked inside a bus station and that explosion killed three and wounded 10, a police officer said.
The second car bomb exploded at the town's outdoor grocery market, killing four civilians and wounding eight.
In and around Baghdad, five bombs went off in commercial areas, killing eight civilians and wounding 35, two police officers said. Three medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.