BRUSSELS, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The European Union said it recognizes the severity of the security situation in Iraq but regrets a decision to execute people convicted of terrorism.
An Iraqi Ministry of Justice statement published Monday by CNN said a presidential council approved the execution of more than a dozen people, including two Iraqi women, following terrorism convictions.
CNN said it estimates nearly 70 people have been executed in Iraq this year. Violence is at a level not seen since the country teetered on the brink of civil war in 2007.
Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief for the European Union, said the bloc is opposed to capital punishment.
"[She] recognizes both that the security situation in Iraq is very difficult at the moment and the seriousness of the crimes for which those sentenced to death have been convicted," a statement from her office said Thursday. "Nevertheless, the EU opposes the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met last week in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Washington said it was concerned by the rising influence of al-Qaida in Iraq after a string of mid-August bombings left at least 60 people dead and more than 200 others injured.
Zebari pledged, "Iraq is not heading to civil or sectarian war."