|President Talabani returns to Iraq after months of medical treatment||
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani returned from months of treatment abroad, with his crisis-hit country on the brink of breakup.
"President Talabani is coming home on Saturday July 19 after receiving successful health treatment in brotherly Germany," his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said, according to AFP.
The PUK said Talabani, who arrived in an airport in his Kurdish fiefdom of Sulaimaniyah, would resume his duties as head of state, in a statement also confirmed by his son Qubad.
While most of Iraq's political power lies with the prime minister's office, the 80-year-old Talabani was long seen as a key mediator between Iraq's feuding factions.
But many observers now cast him off as a spent force, both physically and politically, with his long-time rival Massud Barzani presiding over the destiny of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.
Christians escape after ISIL ultimatum
Meanwhile, Christians fled the Iraqi city of Mosul en masse Friday after mosques relayed an ultimatum giving them a few hours to leave, the country’s Chaldean patriarch and witnesses said.
“Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Irbil,” in the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan, Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”
Witnesses said messages telling Christians to leave the city by Saturday were blared through loudspeakers from the city’s mosques Friday.
A statement dated from last week and purportedly issued by ISIL, warned Mosul’s Christians they should convert, pay a special tax, leave or face death.
UN accuses ISIL of executions, kidnappings
In another development, the United Nations accused ISIL fighters in Iraq of executing religious and other leaders as well as teachers and health workers, forcibly recruiting children and raping women among acts that amounted to war crimes.
A UN report focused on a range of violations committed against civilians, particularly by the Islamic State, Reuters reported. .
"(This)...may also amount to war crimes," the report found.
At least 5,576 Iraqi civilians have been killed this year in violence, the UN said in the most detailed account yet of the impact of months of unrest culminating in advances by militants led by the al-Qaeda offshoot Islamic State, also known as ISIL, across the north.
"ISIL and associated armed groups have also continued to... perpetrate targeted assassinations (community, political, and religious leaders, government employees, education professionals, health workers, etc.), sexual assault, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls, forced recruitment of children, kidnappings, executions, robberies."
The report also accused them of wanton destruction and plundering of places of worship and of cultural or historical significance.
"Credible information on recruitment and use of children as soldiers was also received," the report noted.
"Every day we receive accounts of a terrible litany of human rights violations being committed in Iraq against ordinary Iraqi children, women and men, who have been deprived of their security, their livelihoods, their homes, education, healthcare and other basic services," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.
The report also details violations committed by government forces and affiliated groups, citing "summary executions/extrajudicial killings of prisoners and detainees", which it said may constitute a war crime.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry said this week that an investigation had revealed the Islamic State had taken 510 Shia prisoners from a prison in Mosul to an agricultural area and executed them -- killing all but 17 who managed to flee.
The ministry said its report was based on testimony of one of the prisoners who fled.
Of the 2,400 people killed in June, 1,531 were civilians, the UN said earlier this month.
The report called on the government to investigate serious violations and to hold the perpetrators to account.
At least 22 killed by wave of bombings
Iraqi officials said a series of car bombs in three mainly Shia districts of Baghdad killed at least 15 people, just hours after a suicide bombing in another part of the capital killed at least seven.
The suicide bombing early on July 19 targeted a police checkpoint in the Abud Dsheer district of southern Baghdad.
It was followed by three bombings that took place within 10 minutes of each other in Baghdad’s southwestern district of Bayaa, the capital’s northern neighborhood of Khazimiyah, and Baghdad’s western district of Jihad.
At least 42 people were wounded by the attacks.
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