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Iraq releases on bail some men suspected of targeting U.S.

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By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA

Iraqi authorities released on bail Monday some men with ties to an Iran-backed militia detained under suspicion of carrying out a series of rocket attacks against the U.S. presence in the country, Iraqi government and militia officials said.

The release comes five days after Iraqi security forces arrested 14 men suspected of orchestrating attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone and American troops located in Iraqi bases. The arrests, based on a judicial order, marked the strongest action to date by the new government in Baghdad against the perpetrators affiliated with a powerful Iran-backed militia group.

The officials offered varying accounts of the number of detainees who had been released. A militia official said 11 among the 14 arrested on Thursday were released on bail and three suspects remained in custody. Two government officials did not specify the number and said some were released on bail. One government official said all were released except one prime suspect.

Official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A military statement following the arrests said a special investigative committee was formed to include the Interior Ministry and other Iraqi security forces to follow up on the case.

The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah for orchestrating attacks against its embassy and American troops inside Iraqi bases, and criticized the Iraqi government for not identifying and arresting the culprits.

The raid was carried out according to a judicial order based on Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws, and was issued following intelligence reports indicating the men had orchestrated attacks against the U.S. presence.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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