Iraqi soldiers evacuate families from the recently recaptured city of Ramadi, west of Iraq, 03 January 2016. Islamic State militants are holding around 200 families hostage in Ramadi, an Iraqi official said on 31 December 2015, three days after the western city was mostly retaken from the terrorist group. Head of the Anbar province local council, Sabah Karhut, said that the jihadists were holding the families in the eastern part of Ramadi to stop US-led coalition warplanes and Iraqi ground forces from hunting Islamic State remnants in the city.  EPA/STR
Iraqi soldiers evacuate families from the recently recaptured city of Ramadi, on Sunday. EPA/STR

BAGHDAD — Attacks by five suicide bombers on an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad on Sunday killed at least 15 members of the security forces and wounded 22 others, security sources said.

Two of the bombers detonated their vehicle-borne explosives at the western gate of Camp Speicher, a former US base outside the Sunni city of Tikrit.

Three others blew themselves up after entering the section of the base in which Iraqi police were being trained, police and military sources in the Salahuddin operations command said.

Islamic State, the militant group controlling swathes of Iraq’s north and west, claimed responsibility for the blasts in a statement online. It said it had targeted "trainers from the rejectionist army", a term used by the Sunni insurgents to describe Shiite Muslims.

Iraq is gripped by a sectarian conflict, mostly between Shiites and Sunnis, that has been exacerbated by the rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents of Islamic State.

Camp Speicher became a symbol of the group’s brutality and hatred for Iraq’s Shiite majority after as many as 1,700 soldiers from the base were killed in mid-2014 during the militants’ lightning advance across the Syrian border.

Iraqi forces retook the centre of the western city of Ramadi last week, a victory that could help boost Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has been rebuilding the military after stunning defeats in the face of Islamic State.

Iraq’s defence ministry said Islamic State had stepped up suicide blasts in response to setbacks in Ramadi.

It said in a statement the group had used 22 bombers in two recent failed attacks in Anbar, where Ramadi is located.