Three car bomb attacks targeting Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad killed at least 34 people Sunday.
One blast killed 14 at a tent where people were delivering food to pilgrims as they headed to the holy city of Karbala for the religious observance of Ashura. Later, two other bombings, one in downtown Baghdad and another in Sadr City, killed at least 20 more.
Iraq is bracing for the possibility of more sectarian conflict as hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims flock to the shrine city of Karbala for the religious observance of Ashura. The annual commemoration, peaking on Tuesday, defines the 7th century split between Shi'ism and Sunni Islam.
The annual Ashura commemoration, peaking on Tuesday, defines the 7th century split between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam. It marks the slaying in battle of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, a revered figure in Shi'ite Islam.
The militant Sunni group Islamic State has overtaken a large swath of Iraq and, in recent days, has carried out almost daily car bomb attacks targeting Shi'ites in Baghdad, killing dozens of people.
In addition, the insurgents have conducted mass executions of more than 200 Sunni Muslim Albu Nimr tribesmen after they have refused to give up their territory to Islamic State.
The U.S. military said Sunday that in the last day it launched seven more airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria and another two in Iraq. U.S. Central Command said it hit five small militant units in Kobani, Syria, where Kurdish fighters are battling the jihadists for control of the town just south of the Turkish border.
Billowing plumes of smoke from the airstrikes could be seen Sunday from across the border in Turkey.
About 150 Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have now joined Syrian Kurds to fight the jihadists trying to capture Kobani.