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Iraq hangs 38 in mass execution

Above, Iraqi federal police members during a military parade in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone last week. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi on Saturday declared the end of military operations against Daesh and the liberation of all Iraqi territory formerly held by it. (Reuters)
BAGHDAD: Iraq hanged 38 Sunni militants on Thursday after they were sentenced to death on terrorism charges, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
The mass executions were carried out at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, the statement said quoting the Justice Minister.
On Sept. 24, Iraq executed 42 militants on terrorism charges ranging from killing members of security forces to detonating car bombs.
The ministry said all the convicted were Daesh members. Officials have said all the appeal options available to the condemned had been exhausted, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, Iraq has begun reconstruction work at what was the country’s biggest oil refinery before it was damaged by intense fighting between government forces and Daesh, the Oil Ministry said Thursday.
The aim is to complete work early next year on one of the units that will produce 70,000 barrels per day at the Baiji complex which is currently shut, said ministry spokesman Assem Jihad.
Constructed in 1975 and located 200 km north of Baghdad, the refinery produced between 250,000 and 300,000 barrels a day before Daesh seized it in June 2014.
Government forces retook the facility and the city of Baiji in October 2015 during fierce clashes with the terrorists but the severe damage meant that the refinery remained closed.
“The rehabilitation will allow the distribution of refined products for the north of the country and reduce our imports,” said Jihad.
Baiji was particularly hard hit by the devastation wreaked by Iraq’s campaign to reclaim its towns and cities from Daesh.
In 2016 it was declared a disaster zone by the national Parliament.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow backs Iraq’s unity in a dispute around the region of Kurdistan.
Self-ruled Kurdish regional government last month accepted a federal court ruling that Iraq must remain unified.
Kurdish lawmakers later returned to Baghdad after boycotting the national Parliament in an apparent concession after a military and political standoff that followed the divisive Kurdish independence vote in September.
Asked about the Kurdish referendum, Putin said at this annual news conference on Thursday that “everything should be done without any abrupt moves and within the framework of the law, with the respect of the territorial integrity of Iraq.”
Russia’s biggest oil company, state-owned Rosneft, earlier this year signed a deal with Kurdish authorities, bypassing the Iraqi government.
Putin also said the US may be sparing some Syrian militants in the hope that they will fight Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Putin pointed to occasions when the Russian military in Syria would warn its US counterparts about militants heading from Syria to Iraq, but the US would not launch an airstrike. Putin alleged that may indicate an intention to “use them in the fight against Assad.”
He said that attempts to use militants for political purposes would raise long-term threats, drawing parallels with the US support for Al-Qaeda during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

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