05/01/2015, 00.00
IRAQ
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Baghdad grants amnesty to deserters to fight the Islamic State group

Prime Minister Abadi offers an amnesty to defectors who return to their units within 30 days. The military collapse last June paved the way for the Islamic State group to seize parts of the country. The amnesty does not include those who committed crimes against state security, corruption and abuse of influence. Meanwhile, suicide attacks continue.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday offered an amnesty to members of the security forces who fled the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, provided they return to their units within 30 days.

Last June’s mass defections allowed the jihadists to seize without fighting Mosul and other areas north and west of Baghdad.

Images of the collapse of Iraqi security forces were splashed around the world. In their haste to flee, some security personnel shed their uniforms and abandoned vehicles, weapons and other equipment, which the jihadists have since employed against government forces.

The statement from Abadi's office did not specifically mention IS, but the amnesty covers those who fled, were absent or harmed themselves to avoid service.

The amnesty specifically excludes those who committed offenses, including crimes against state security, corruption and abuse of influence.

Since last year’s defeat, Iraq’s military has managed to regain part of the jihadist-held territory with the help of paramilitary groups, US air strikes and Iranian support.

Since 2 March, around 30,000 Iraqi troops and thousands of allied Shia and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq's biggest offensive to dislodge IS forces from the northern part of Salahudin Governatorate, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages.

However, the army’s offensive has not stopped violence and attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.

Last Sunday, at least 22 people were killed in explosions across the country, including a suicide car bomb attack on a military post in western Anbar province.

A car bomb went off near Khilani Square in central Baghdad, killing six and wounding 17 others.

On Saturday, IS fighters attacked again Baiji, the country's largest refinery, using mortars and machine guns fixed to pickup trucks.

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