Iraq executes 13 and orders hanging of hundreds more amid fears of Isis resurgence

(The Independent) Iraq has put to death 13 people convicted of terrorism offences hours after the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered the execution of hundreds of prisoners on death row in retaliation for the killing by Isis of eight members of the security forces.

The hangings are aimed at quelling public anger over signs that Isis is re-emerging as a threat after the group showed eight captives, who were badly bruised and looked as if they had been severely beaten, on a video last weekend and said that they would be killed unless Sunni women prisoners were released by the government within three days.

The government says that autopsies on the bodies of dead men, six of whom belonged to the logistics department of the paramilitary Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Committees, showed that they were shot and killed before this deadline expired.

An Iraqi government official, speaking to The Independent just before the discovery of the bodies, said that Isis fighters targeting the main Baghdad-Kirkuk road were based in the rugged Hamrin mountains, a traditional Isis stronghold.

Isis suicide bombers based in the Syrian border area are continually trying to reach Baghdad but “so far they have failed”.

He added that Iraqi security forces now have good intelligence about Isis plans and personnel after luring back to Iraq five senior Isis leaders it had captured and interrogated. It appears Isis is keen to revert to guerrilla war similar to that which it waged successfully before its explosive expansion when it captured Mosul in 2014, but so far it has had only limited success.

Isis advances are mainly in Diyala, Salahudin and Kirkuk provinces north of Baghdad where Isis fighters can often recruit local guides from Sunni displaced from their villages who are looking to return.

Ahmed Abdul Jabbar al-Kraiym, head of the Salahudin provincial council, said at a press conference this week that dozens of people have been killed and kidnapped in Salahudin.

He warned of “a catastrophic situation in the province if the government does not deal with the increasing presence of Daesh (Isis) militants, as some families have started to leave their homes because of the extremist militants”.

Blaming the government and security forces for the deterioration of the security situation in his province, Mr Kraiym said that the security forces “are busy with smuggling fuel and taking bribes from the citizens at checkpoints, while neglecting the security file”.

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