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‘Iraq at a crossroads,’ UN envoys says, urging country’s leaders to diffuse escalating violence

Special Representative Martin Kobler.
UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade
Special Representative Martin Kobler.

‘Iraq at a crossroads,’ UN envoys says, urging country’s leaders to diffuse escalating violence

The top United Nations official in Iraq today warned that the country could head towards the unknown if decisive measures are not taken immediately to stop escalating violence, following recent clashes that killed and wounded hundreds.

“I call on the conscience of all religious and political leaders not to let anger win over peace, and to use their wisdom, because the country is at a crossroads,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Martin Kobler, said in a news release.

“It is the historical responsibility of all Iraqi leaders to assume leadership and take bold initiatives, such as sitting together and calling in one voice for immediate restoration of calm and for a broad-based national dialogue,” he added.

Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in recent clashes across the country, including in Hawija, north of Baghdad, where government helicopters shot at militants hiding in the village, resulting in dozens of people killed or injured.

Mr. Kobler had condemned the fighting, calling it a “tragedy” and a “sad day for Hawija.”

In a statement issued on 23 April, Mr. Kobler said it was the responsibility of all leaders not to let the situation escalate further and called for an immediate and transparent investigation into what happened.

“I have constantly called on the demonstrators to remain peaceful and on the security forces to exert utmost self-restraint and avoid excessive use of force.”

Mr. Kobler extended his sincere condolences to the families of the victims. “My heart goes to the grieving families, tragically shaken by the loss of a beloved one. As human beings, we cannot remain insensitive to such senseless violence.”

Also, Mr. Kobler today reiterated his calls for the release of prisoners detained in the aftermath of a crackdown related to Hawija.