At least 23 people died in twin suicide bomb blasts at a wedding party in a village near the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday, a local government official said.
The attack in the village of Hajjaj, some 20 kilometres north of Tikrit, came after Iraqi forces pushed further into the Daesh stronghold of western Mosul. The military took control of the last major road leading west from the city on Wednesday.
A 100,000-strong force of Iraqi military units, and Shia and Kurdish fighters, backed by a US-led coalition, has been fighting to retake Mosul from Daesh since October. The eastern side of the city was recaptured in January after a tough 100-day battle. Since then the assault has been continuing to liberate western Mosul.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the blasts in Hajjaj. Daesh has carried out similar acts as pressure on the group intensifies in Iraq and in Syria. The retreat of the group has been accompanied by bomb attacks in areas outside the group's control, including Baghdad and cities in neighbouring Syria.
Inside western Mosul
On Wednesday, the Iraqi military said the army and Shia paramilitary forces had taken full control of the last major road leading west out of Mosul, towards the town of Tal Afar, state TV reported. The road links Mosul to Tal Afar, another Daesh stronghold 60 km (40 miles) to the west, and then to the Syrian border.
The 9th Armoured Division and two Shia groups had "isolated the right-bank (western side of Mosul) from Tal Afar," according to Iraqi state TV. Shia militias taking part in the Mosul campaign began to close in on the city of Tal Afar late last year, after the offensive was launched. They linked up then with Kurdish fighters to encircle Daesh.