Accessibility links

Breaking News

Missing Iraqi Soldiers' Relatives Start Parliamentary Sit-In

Islamic State has put videos online showing scores of men they said were Iraqi soldiers being forced to lie down on the ground before being shot in the head.

Dozens of relatives of missing Iraqi soldiers have begun a sit-in in the main parliamentary chamber in Baghdad demanding information about their loved ones.

An RFE/RL correspondent reports the angry demonstrators had agreed to move from the parliament's cafeteria to the main chamber after some lawmakers agreed to hear their complaints.

The protesters are relatives of some of the hundreds of Iraqi soldiers who were captured in June by Islamic State (IS) militants in the northern city of Tikrit and other nearby areas.

IS has put videos online showing scores of men they said were Iraqi soldiers being forced to lie down on the ground before being shot in the head.

The protesters' relatives are believed to be among those massacred but no bodies have yet been recovered.

The soldiers' relatives say they have been given no information about government efforts to find out exactly what happened to the captured soldiers.

Parliament deputies told the relatives parliament would reconvene on September 3 and would address the protesters' concerns regarding the missing soldiers and a plan to find them.

The protesters refused to leave the parliament chamber and said they will remain there until the parliament session is held.

The demonstrators broke windows and damaged the parliamentary cafeteria shortly after forcing their way through security and entering the building earlier on September 2.

Iraqi special forces encircled the legislature and threatened to use force if the group didn't leave parliament.

Parliament on September 2 was scheduled to discuss urgent issues, including the formation of a new government and a proposed budget.

There is strong domestic and international pressure on Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi to quickly nominate a government that will be approved by parliament.

Meanwhile, in a report released earlier on September 2, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said IS militants were guilty of "systematic ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq.

The report cites "hair-raising" accounts from survivors of massacres that Amnesty said shows IS fighters have committed "war crimes."

The report said, "The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq."

The report said that just in the two villages of Qiniyeh on August 3 and Kocho on August 15 "the number of those killed...runs into the hundreds."

IS and its allies control large parts of northern and western Iraq after entering the country at the start of this year from areas in northeastern Syria.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP