Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iraqi Shiite Cleric Urges Fighters to Disarm After IS Defeat

Iraqi security forces deploy in Rawah, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2017. Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook the last town in the country that was held by the Islamic State group.

An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric is urging his fighters to hand state-issued weapons back to the government following the declaration of victory against the Islamic State group.

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 IS in a national address on Saturday evening, after Iraqi forces cleared the last IS strongholds from Iraq's western desert.

Al-Sadr's fighters took up arms against IS in the summer of 2014 after the fall of Mosul and are officially part of the government-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces.