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the Promised Day Brigade had made the decision to free their captive in light of the confirmation that U.S. troops had withdrawn from Iraq.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.
Police suspect man helped terrorists acquire massive amounts of explosives
Company’s Twitter account repeatedly sent concerned consumers to fake website critical of its handling of data breach
Leaders object to KRG referendum vote, agree to fight terror groups with ‘determination’
Islamophobia threatening alienation among Europe's Muslims despite high attachment to home countries
Now everything is down to those plans becoming reality, the lender cautioned.
Turkish aid agency responds in aftermath of 8.2-magnitude earthquake which stuck on Tuesday
Thousands took to the streets of the Mediterranean seaside city on Wednesday after police detained key members of the team allegedly organising the vote slated for October 1 in a region deeply divided over independence.
Terrorist group loses five more villages in Saladin province north of Baghdad, local security sources say
Local media reported that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former African Union chief, was sworn in Thursday as a member of parliament for the governing African National Congress.
EU says CETA free-trade deal with Canada will not be 'fully implemented' until all member states ratify it
May flew home with Johnson overnight from New York, where they had attended the UN General Assembly, landing at dawn before holding a special cabinet meeting in Downing Street.
Protests in Greek capital as Eldorado mining firm tells Athens to issue delayed licences
Far-right party has struggled since Marine Le Pen lost May's presidential race to Emmanuel Macron
British police arrest teenage male in connection with bomb attack which injured 30 in London Underground train on Friday
President Emmanuel Macron says UN Security Council must condemn genocide, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Igbo group denies they are violent, want to create a separate homeland for their people