By Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Associated Press
BAGHDAD — Twenty-six hostages, including members of Qatar’s ruling family, were released on Friday after 16 months in captivity in Iraq, two Iraqi officials said, in what had become one of the region’s most complex hostage negotiations.
The two — a government and a security official — told The Associated Press the hostages were released into the custody of the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
The abduction sparked more than a year of negotiations between Iran, Qatar and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, resulting in millions of dollars in payments to Sunni and Shiite factions, according to Iraqi officials.
The group, which includes members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family and also other nationals, was kidnapped in December…