Iraq’s top cleric slams abduction of workers in Baghdad
Senior Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has denounced the kidnapping of a group of workers in the capital, Baghdad, earlier this month, expressing readiness to help the government secure their release.
“In my name and the name of all lovers of peace and Islam, I demand their release no matter the political or financial motives or other conflicts, and regardless of who the kidnapper was,” the cleric said in a message posted online on Saturday.
His message came after Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemned the kidnapping of the workers by gunmen in Baghdad, calling for their freedom.
“We demand the release of the kidnapped men and the end of such practices,” Sistani’s office said in a statement issued on Saturday.
By taking the law into their own hands, the unknown kidnappers are harming the “prestige of the state and weakening the elected government,” the statement said.
The group of abductees consists of 18 Turkish nationals who work for a construction company owned by Nurol Holding.
On September 11, the kidnappers released a video on social media networks showing the hostages. The gunmen in the video called for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop the flow of militants from Turkey into Iraq and the passage of stolen oil from Iraq’s Kurdistan through Turkish territory.
Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government is independently exporting oil via Turkey in a move the Iraqi government considers illegal.
Ankara has also been accused of supporting the militancy that started in Syria and later spread to Iraq. There have been numerous reports of Turkey providing safe passage and arms to the Daesh Takfiri militants.