Iraq hangs 38 members of ISIS and Al-Qaeda

Iraq executes 38 jihadists, the largest number of executions in Iraq on a single day since September.

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Ben Ariel,

Jihadists (illustration)
Jihadists (illustration)

Iraq on Thursday hanged 38 jihadists belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) group or Al-Qaeda for terrorism offenses, provincial authorities said, according to the AFP news agency.

The executions took place the southern city of Nasiriyah. It was the largest number of executions in Iraq on a single day since September 25, when 42 people were put to death in the same prison.

"The prison administration executed on Thursday in the presence of Justice Minister Haidar al-Zameli, in Nasiriyah prison, 38 death row prisoners belonging to Al-Qaeda or Daesh (ISIS) accused of terrorist activities," said Dakhel Kazem, a senior official in the provincial council.

They were all Iraqis but one also had Swedish citizenship, a prison source said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday declared victory against ISIS after a three-year campaign by government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition to retake territory seized by the jihadists.

ISIS swept across Syria and Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in territory roughly the size of Britain, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.

Since then, several military offensives, including those backed by the U.S.-led coalition, have since seen ISIS lose most areas it once controlled.

Last month, the U.S.-led coalition said the jihadist group had lost 95 percent of its self-declared "caliphate".

The Amnesty International organization has voiced repeated concerns about the use of the death penalty in Iraq, which it ranks as one of the world's top executioners behind China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In a report released on December 5, Human Rights Watch criticized both Iraq's central government and the autonomous Kurdish authorities over mass trials of suspected ISIS jihadists.

HRW said the authorities "appear to be prosecuting all ISIS suspects in their custody under counterterrorism laws, primarily for ISIS membership, and not focusing on specific actions or crimes that may have been committed".

The New York-based group identified 7,374 cases of suspects charged under this law since 2014, and put at 20,000 the total number of people imprisoned for suspected IS membership.

It expressed concerns that the broad prosecution of those affiliated with ISIS "in any way, no matter how minimal, could impede future community reconciliation and reintegration".