Kurdish general among four killed in Iraq blast
A roadside bomb blast killed a Kurdish peshmerga major general and three of his bodyguards in Iraq's Daquq region on Tuesday, senior officers said. The blast also wounded five others.
The attack comes as Iraqi President Fuad Masum begins his two-day visit to Tehran to discuss the latest security developments in the region and boost economic ties.
The visit, which is Masum's first trip to Tehran since taking office last year, came after an invitation from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who came to power in 2013.
Iran plays a key role in Iraq’s politics and economy and has been a major supporter of Shia militias in the country’s battle against the Islamic State (IS) group.
Islamic State fight
Tuesday's bomb blast killed Major General Salah Dilmani while he was touring the peshmerga front against the IS group, south of the city of Kirkuk, army official Ismail Hamid said.
Delmani was the commander in Daquq, a village south of Kirkuk on the road to Baghdad, which was recently recaptured from IS.
The peshmerga forces of Iraq's autonomous northern region of Kurdistan have been battling IS fighters on several fronts, from Iraq's northwestern borders with Syria to areas just northeast of Baghdad, near the border with Iran.
On Monday, Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, said his forces had "broken the spine" of the Islamic State (IS) group with the help of international allies.
"Thanks to (the Kurds') opposition and the help of their friends in the coalition, the spine of the Islamic State is broken," Barzani said after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest.
Hungary recently joined the fight against IS by committing to send some 150 soldiers to Iraqi Kurdistan's capital, Arbil.
Barzani said that although "the danger is not over", he was hopeful the days of the brutal militant organisation were numbered.
The Kurdish president is in Budapest on an official state visit after wrapping up a trip to Washington where he met US President Barack Obama to discuss the situation in Iraq.
Barzani appealed for more humanitarian aid and asked the US to arm his Peshmerga forces directly instead of passing though the federal government in Baghdad.
The Peshmerga, backed by US airstrikes, have prevented IS from advancing far from the mainly Arab cities they have seized in Iraq and into the area controlled by the Kurds.
But Barzani warned that his region was now dealing with more than one-and-a-half million refugees and internally displaced people" who have fled IS.
Iraqi authorities have also been on high alert as the flux of Shia worshippers flocking to the Kadhimiya shrine in Baghdad for an annual ritual nears its climax.
Worshippers have in recent days started walking to Kadhimiya, site of a shrine dedicated to Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shia Islam, who died in 799 AD.
The intense security alert comes after a car bomb blast targeting the pilgrims killed at least seven people on Saturday and wounded around 20.
The marching worshippers and the hundreds of tents along their path where they can rest, eat and drink are considered particularly vulnerable to attacks.