BAGHDAD: An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric is urging his fighters to hand state-issued weapons back to the government following the declaration of victory against Daesh.
Muqtada Al-Sadr also called on his forces to hand some of the territory they control to other branches of Iraq’s security forces, but said his men would remain as protectors of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad.
Al-Sadr’s speech was broadcast on Iraq television on Monday.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared victory over Daesh in a national address on Saturday evening, after Iraqi forces cleared the last Daesh strongholds from Iraq’s western desert.
Al-Sadr’s fighters took up arms against Daesh in the summer of 2014 after the fall of Mosul and are officially part of the government-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces.
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