ACTIVISTS in Poland have pulled down a statue of a priest after increasing allegations that he sexually abused minors, a stunt they said was to protest over the failure of the Polish Catholic Church to resolve the problem of clergy sex abuse.

Video footage showed three men attaching a rope around the statue of the late Monsignor Henryk Jankowski in the northern city of Gdansk and then pulling it down to the ground.

The activists then placed children’s underwear in one of the statue’s hands and a small white laced church vestment worn by altar boys on the statue’s body to symbolise the suffering of children allegedly molested by the prelate.

The protest comes as Pope Francis gathered church leaders from around the world at the Vatican in order to address the sex abuse crisis within the church.

ELSEWHERE, US-backed Syrian forces fighting Daesh in Syria have handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Baghdad, the first batch of several to come, an Iraqi security official said.

The official said the IS militants were handed over to the Iraqi side late on Wednesday, and were in a “safe place” being investigated.

The official said the Kurdish-led Syrian fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, are holding more than 20,000 Iraqis suspected of IS membership in prisons in northern Syria.

The handover comes as the US-backed Syrian force is involved in a stand-off over the final IS-held sliver of land in south-eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border.

It was not immediately clear whether the 150 Iraqis repatriated late on Wednesday were among those recently evacuated from Baghouz or militants who had been captured earlier.

Tuesday night’s handover was the biggest repatriation of militants so far.

MEANWHILE, Empire actor Jussie Smollett has turned himself in to face accusations that he filed a false police report.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

The actor is expected to appear in court later.

AND finally, a Japanese spacecraft has begun its approach towards a distant asteroid on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.

Hayabusa2 is scheduled for touchdown on the asteroid today, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

It will land on the asteroid Ryugu named after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale.

If successful, the craft will collect samples to be sent back to Earth.