BAGHDAD - Iraq's government promised to release from prison one of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's defense ministers, the outgoing deputy prime minister said in comments published on Friday.

In an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, Deputy Prime Minister Minister Saleh Mutlaq did not say why the promises to free Sultan Hashem, who was sentenced to death, and other Sunni military and political leaders were made.

The issue could be related to efforts to appease Iraq's minority Sunni community, who were sidelined by outgoing Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The alienation prompted Sunni armed groups to support Islamic State militants.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger