Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the release of a group of Qatari hunters kidnapped in the south of the country, his representative said on Friday during a sermon before prayers.
“We demand that all kidnapped people be released no matter who they are,” Ahmed al-Safi said in a sermon in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, south of Baghdad.
“We condemn kidnappings for political goals, including the recent kidnapping of a number of hunters,” he said.
Safi stated that in these harsh conditions the Iraqi army is busy fighting ISIS, and unfortunately many criminal gangs are kidnapping, killing, stealing, and are targeting civilians and residents, affecting the security and stability in the country. He said that what happened with the Qatari hunters was not reflective of judicial and Islamic standards, especially because they entered the country legally.
Sources have said that ISIS militants kidnapped families and men from Ramadi city in order to delay it from being liberated, by using civilians as human shields. Civil authorities are saying that the city will be freed in few days, Iraqi officials believe the presence of snipers and mines could cause delays.
Sources indicated that officials are fearful for the return of the citizens to the city since the extremist group has destructed more than 85 percent of it, and they confirmed that its reinstruction required substantial funding.