Iraq releases militant with links to attack on U.S. soldiers

In a goodwill gesture to militant groups, the Iraqi government has freed a man who had been held for the killing of five U.S. soldiers, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

The release of Laith al-Khazali on Sunday comes after recent media reports that he would be among a number of militiamen — all with links to Iran — who would be released in exchange for the freeing of five British hostages.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said al-Khazali’s release was not linked to any rumored negotiations about the British hostages or to any other deal.

Al-Khazali’s release was a gesture by the Iraqi government as part of the national reconciliation process with militant groups, al-Dabbagh told CNN.