Iraqi forces press advance as parliament stormed

Iraqi forces press advance as parliament stormed

AMERLI - Agence France-Presse
Iraqi forces press advance as parliament stormed

Iraqi soldiers celebrate after liberating the village of Sulaiman Bek, located between the capital Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, from Islamic State (IS) fighters on Sept. 1 AFP Photo

Iraqi forces made more progress Sept. 2 in their fightback against jihadists but in Baghdad anger boiled over as hundreds stormed parliament over the fate of missing soldiers who surrendered in June.

After breaking a months-long jihadist siege by Islamic State fighters of the Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli, troops on Sept. 2 regained control of part of a key highway linking Baghdad to the north.

Two towns north of Amerli were also taken from the jihadists on Monday as Iraqi forces - backed by U.S. air strikes - score their first major victories since the army's collapse across much of the north in June. That collapse left some 1,700 soldiers in jihadist hands, with many believed to have been executed.
Demanding to know their fates, angry relatives stormed the parliament building in Baghdad, attacked MPs and began a sit-in in its main chamber, an official said. Anti-riot police were trying to force out the hundreds of protesters, who were also calling for some officers to be held accountable, said the official, who was present at parliament.

Concern over those in jihadist hands has been fuelled by reports of widespread atrocities, including accusations from Amnesty International of war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

The Sunni extremist IS declared an Islamic "caliphate" in regions under its control in Iraq and Syria after it swept through much of the Sunni Arab heartland north of Baghdad in June and then stormed minority Christian and Yazidi Kurdish areas.

IS has carried out beheadings, crucifixions and public stonings and Amnesty International on Sept. 2 accused the jihadists of "war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions" in areas under its control.