Iraq PM accuses Kurds of harboring militants

Iraq PM accuses Kurds of harboring militants
Wed Jul 9, 2014 19:14:33

Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki has accused the country's autonomous Kurdish region of harboring militants, as the bodies of 53 men who had been bound and executed have been found in a province south of Baghdad.

The crisis triggered by a militant-led offensive that started exactly a month ago and soon overran swathes of five provinces north and west of Baghdad, has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and heaped pressure on Maliki as he bids for a third term.

The incumbent on Wednesday accused Kurdish leaders of hosting militant groups behind the onslaught.

"Honestly, we cannot be silent over this and we cannot be silent over Arbil being a headquarters for ISIL, and the Baath, and al-Qaeda and terrorist operations," Maliki said in his weekly televised address.

"They (militant groups) will lose, and their host will lose also because he did not provide an example of patriotic partnership," the premier said.

Though Kurdish parliamentary backing is not necessary to form a government, the Kurds are seen as crucial to maintaining a united front against insurgents led by the so-called Islamic State.

In scenes harking back to the brutal 2006-07 period, the authorities discovered the corpses of 53 men in orchards south of Babil provincial capital Hilla, all with gunshots to the head and chest.

A morgue official said the victims were killed at least a week ago.

It was not immediately clear why the men were killed, officials said.

Although attacks have taken place in Babil province since the IS-led offensive began, the area where the bodies were found was not close to the sites of other recent violence.

Between northern Babil and southern Baghdad lies the Triangle of Death, a religiously-diverse region known for the ferocity of its sectarian violence in the years after the US-led invasion of 2003.

HH/HH

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