A series of car bombings and a suicide truck attack killed at least 58 people and injured dozens more in cities across Iraq over the weekend.
The spate of deadly attacks began late Friday when a suicide truck bomber rammed into an Iraqi police convoy in the town of Beiji, killing eight people and injuring 15, according to police and medics.
Police Lt. Gen. Faisal Malik and seven of his officers were among the casualties in the attack, which occurred as Malik was inspecting troops in the town 155 miles north of Baghdad, authorities told the Associated Press.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Beiji, but authorities suspect the work of Sunni militants, who have carried out similar bombings in the past.
The bombings continued Saturday, with at least 43 people killed in car explosions that ripped through busy commercial and residential areas of the capital. The deadliest attack took place in Baghdad's Sadr City section, where 11 people were killed and 21 wounded by a car bomb.
The incidents occurred hours after President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 1,500 US troops to help Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State, which has seized control over large swathes of Iraq since it began its bloodied land grabs this summer.
The troops will more than double the number of American forces already in Iraq, and support the US-led coalition airstrikes that have been targeting militant bases in Iraq since August. Around 1,400 US troops are currently in Iraq, out of a contingent of 1,600 soldiers previously authorized to be there.
The Pentagon emphasized that the new troops will not be used in a combat role. Their mission is to support and train Iraqi and Kurdish forces engaged in ground combat against the Islamic State. The training mission is expected to last nearly a year.
"Even with these additional personnel, the mission is not changing," a senior Obama administration official told the Guardian. "The mission continues to be one of training, advising and equipping Iraqis, and Iraqis are the ones who are fighting on the ground, fighting in combat."
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