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the Promised Day Brigade had made the decision to free their captive in light of the confirmation that U.S. troops had withdrawn from Iraq.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.
The UN mission in Kosovo was set up at the end of the war in 1999 and helped govern it until Kosovo's 2008 independence.
Doctor Without Borders reports 16 pct malnutrition among young children in settlements of displaced people
Terrorism, trade, climate change likely to top agenda of high-level meeting
Total number of people returned under Turkey-EU deal reaches 1,081
Speaking after German media reported the US president as having described the Germans as "bad, very bad", European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker tried to play down the latest spat to erupt since Trump came to power pursuing a protectionist agenda.
NATO Parliamentary Assembly president says Caucasus nation has 'full support'
UK opposition leader also draws links between British foreign policy, terror attacks at home
"It's a big problem, it's a world problem," he said in the Sicilian town of Taormina, just weeks after he called North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un a "madman with nuclear weapons."
The two-day summit in Sicily's ancient hilltop resort of Taormina kicks off four days after children were among 22 people killed in a concert bomb attack in Manchester.
Maimane was planning to attend treason trial of Zambian opposition leader in capital Lusaka
Police search post offices, embassies, airport in Greek capital after letter bomb attack
Foreign minister says UN should not try to replace country’s justice system by conducting parallel investigation
A former chief of the council, ethnic issues expert Mihail Ivanov called the appointment "an outrage against minorities."
The National Liberation Army (ELN) is the country's second-largest rebel group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). A former member of the group Victus tells his story
In keeping with his nationalist economic agenda, Trump had in particular hit out at Germany's substantial trade surplus with the US, threatening to introduce customs duties in retaliation.
The 75-year-old was given a lethal injection after the US Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed by denying the inmate's stay requests.