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Iraq Sentences 24 to Death for Massacre

A grieving Iraqi father shows a poster of his dead son, who was an Iraqi soldier, in a Baghdad courtroom, July 8, 2014.

An Iraqi court has sentenced 24 militants to death for their part in a massacre of Iraqi military recruits a year ago in the northern city of Tikrit.

Hundreds of the recruits, mostly Shi'ite Muslims, were shot to death execution-style after the Islamic State group seized the provincial capital and overran the Camp Speicher air base previously used by U.S. troops. The militants captured roughly 1,700 soldiers trying to flee.

The central court in Baghdad on Wednesday sentenced the 24 militants to death by hanging. Four others were acquitted for lack of evidence. A spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council told The Associated Press that approximately 600 militants who allegedly participated in the massacre remain at large.

The Islamic State group last summer had posted video showing gunmen slaughtering soldiers who’d been force to lie face down in a shallow ditch. In April, Iraqi forensic teams began recovering bodies; almost 600 have been found, the AP said.

Tikrit, the birthplace of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was taken over by the extremist group near the beginning of its offensive last summer. Iraqi security forces, aided by Shi’ite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes, recaptured the city four months ago, then arrested dozens of people linked to the massacre, the AP reported.

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