The Islamic State group carried out a series of orchestrated assaults this weekend as it continued its disruption around the world during the Islamic month of fasting called Ramadan. The Iraqi government responded Sunday by stepping up its attacks on the extremist group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS, conducting airstrikes and training artillery fire on the western cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, according to Al Jazeera. Collectively, its offensives killed at least 73 people in the two cities controlled by the militant group, the news organization reported.
In Ramadi, 50 people were killed and about 30 injured when an Iraqi government airstrike was launched just after midnight local time. Area residents claimed it targeted a group of men who had broken their Ramadan fasts early Sunday at a gathering where some were playing soccer, but the government contended the meeting was an Islamic State group event, Al Jazeera reported.
In Fallujah, 23 people were killed and around 40 injured as Iraqi forces shelled the northern reaches of the city.
The Islamic State group launched a handful of attacks employing suicide bombers in cars driven to locations where elements of the Iraqi Quick Reaction Force were stationed outside Fallujah, Al Jazeera reported. Four of the attacks were halted in their tracks, but one was successful, killing seven soldiers.
Suicide bombers also attacked the Iraqi town of Baiji and an oil refinery there, which is the country’s largest, according to Reuters. The Islamic State group assaults there were launched after Iraqi authorities and their allies appeared close to securing the entire city, the news organization reported.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State group attacked a power plant in Syria, this time using a truck full of explosives, Reuters reported. A suicide bomber drove the truck into the plant, causing damage and killing an undisclosed number of people, Syrian state television said. Suicide bombers also targeted a second power plant in the city, but they were stopped before they could execute their plan.
Also in Syria, the U.S. led airstrikes on ISIS-controlled Raqqa, where at least 10 militants were killied, according to CBS News. There were 16 airstrikes across the city, an unusually intense series of attacks targeting the militant group's structures and transportation routes, the news network reported.
"The significant airstrikes tonight were executed to deny [ISIS] the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq," coalition representative Lt. Col. Thomas Gilleran said in a statement.