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Iraqi 'Death Squad' Releases Video of Turkish Construction Workers Kidnapped in Baghdad

Ten days after 17 Turkish construction workers and their Iraqi Kurdish translator were kidnapped, a Shiite militia released footage that shows the men alive.
September 12, 2015, 6:40pm

A Shiite militia that calls itself "Death Squad" released a video on Friday that shows 17 Turkish workers and an Iraqi Kurdish translator kidnapped 10 days ago from a construction site in Baghdad.

In the video, each hostage states his name and where he is from, before calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet his captors' demands.

"We are foreign workers who have come here to earn our bread," one of the hostages says in the tape. "We are now victims as a result of some foreign policies, some meaningless, inconsistent business."

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The group wants Ankara to halt the flow of Turkish jihadists into Iraq, to block the movement of "stolen oil" from Iraq's Kurdistan region, and to cease attacks on several Shiite villages in Syria.

Related: Syria and Iraq Are Disintegrating, US Defense Intel Chief Says

If the Turkish government fails to meet its demands, the group vows in the video, it will "strike the interests of Turkey and its agents in Iraq with the most violent means."

Iraq's top Shiite cleric condemned the kidnappings on Saturday. "We demand the release of the abductees and an end to these practices which harm the image of Islam," the office of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistan said in a statement.

Baghdad has struggled to rein in Shiite armed groups, many of which fought the US occupation and are now seen as a critical deterrent against Islamic State militants in northern and western Iraq.

The hostages, who were employed by the Turkish construction company Nurol Holding, were building a soccer stadium in Sadr City, Baghdad when they were abducted.

An Iraqi soldier was killed in a shootout two days after the kidnapping when intelligence information reportedly led security forces to the location of a suspect in the case.

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Reuters contributed to this report.

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