Followers of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr freed an American former soldier on Saturday after holding him captive in Baghdad for nine months.
The American, identified as Randy Michaels, was shown on television in a U.S. military uniform with no insignia, flanked by two members of parliament from Sadr's movement, including the parliament's first deputy speaker.
The lawmakers described him as an American soldier, but Michaels said he was a former service member working in a civilian capacity at the time he was captured, last June.
He said he had been held by the Yom al-Maoud, or Promised Day Brigade, an offshoot of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia which remained armed after Sadr disbanded most Mehdi Army units in 2008.
"I was taken inside Baghdad and have been kept in and around different locations within the city by al-Maoud. It was explained to me that my release has been for humanitarian purposes and there was no exchange involved," he said in remarks shown on Iraq's Bagdadiya television.
The Pentagon has said none of its serving troops are believed to be held in Iraq since last month when it recovered the remains of the last missing soldier.
Maha al-Douri, a lawmaker from Sadr's bloc said: "We declare the release of the American soldier, Randy Michaels, without any compensation, according to the instructions of Moqtada al-Sadr, as a gift from him to the soldier's family and to his people, and to correct the image of Islam."
Qusay al-Souhail, deputy parliament speaker, said the leadership of the Promised Day Brigade had made the decision to free their captive in light of the confirmation that U.S. troops had withdrawn from Iraq.
The Sadr officials said Michaels had been turned over to the U.N. mission in Baghdad. A spokeswoman for the mission declined to comment. The U.S. embassy could not immediately be reached and U.S. officials in Washington were not immediately available for comment.
Nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the United States withdrew its forces from Iraq in December, with the exception of a few hundred service members stationed as part of the "diplomatic mission" at its embassy.
The U.S. mission still includes 2,000 diplomats and, as of last year, 14,000 civilian contractors. The embassy says the number of contractors has declined since then but does not release updated figures.
A bomb laden with explosives has exploded in front of the US Consulate in Erbil, with reports saying three killed, and five wounded.
A fire broke out at a mosque just before Friday prayers in Komotini city in northeastern Greece that left the roof and interior damaged.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls pledged to finance a $107 million plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism, saying in a press conference on Friday that the recent increase in prejudice is "insufferable,”.
The Iraqi leader Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former right-hand man to Saddam Hussein, has been killed in a report in Iraqi media
More than 2000 families have fled from Ramadi as ISIL forces approach the city of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province
The U.S. Army announced the arrival of the paratroopers on April 16, saying they would train 900 members of a Ukrainian force that was called up in 2014 to bring volunteers and pro-government militia under government control.
Alex Whiting, a former senior ICC prosecutor, said a new referral could force an ICC investigation of the wider Ukraine conflict especially because of war crime allegations.
The Italian foreign ministry said its crisis team was investigating the alleged seizure of the motorised trawler from Trapani in southwestern Sicily which was carrying three Italians and four Tunisians.
Sudan has denied using cluster bombs and has accused the HRW agency of a fabricated report
On Tuesday, Kenya has offered Shabaab fighters ten days to lay down arms in an amnesty.
Religious leaders said they would not be intimidated by the threat of the ban
New searchable archive sheds light on film studio’s connection to the White House and Hollywood as well as the studios reaction to Trans-Pacific trade agreement.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde says Greece should work harder at determining and implementing economic reforms.
Barzani has accused the PKK with betrayal, saying that, "We will control South Kurdistan through Erbil".
Special police forces arrest suspected left-wing Turkish extremists for membership of a foreign terrorist organization.
According to Italian media, boat carrying illegal migrants sinks in Mediterranean Sea near Italy; 40 feared drowned.