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Iraq’s top Shi’ah cleric urges end of bloodshed, warns of civil war

Ayatollah al-Sistani has urged the end of bloodshed in ‎the Arab country, warning of a civil war and chaos after dozens of deaths during the recent ‎wave of protest rallies across Iraq.‎
RNA – Iraq’s top Shi’ah cleric Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani has urged the end of bloodshed in ‎the Arab country, warning of a civil war and chaos after dozens of deaths during the recent ‎wave of protest rallies across Iraq.‎

In a statement on Friday, Ayatollah al-Sistani expressed regret over the continued clashes ‎between demonstrators and security forces, which have resulted in the deaths and injuries of ‎many innocent people from both sides and damages to public and private properties.‎

‎“The innocent blood shed during the past few weeks is very valuable to us, and measures ‎must be taken to prevent further bloodshed,” the top cleric said.‎

‎“The country must be kept from slipping toward the edge of the precipice of a civil war, ‎chaos, and destruction,” Ayatollah al-Sistani urged.‎

This is only possible if all parties join hands to resolve the current crisis in the country with ‎good faith, he added.‎

The top cleric once again condemned any assault on the peaceful protesters and any ‎unjustifiable violence, calling for investigation into those who use violence.‎

Ayatollah al-Sistani also warned any individuals and groups inside Iraq as well as regional and ‎world countries against attempting to exploit the Iraqi people’s protests.‎

PMU says won’t interfere in rallies

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, announced ‎that it will support the legitimate demands of protesters without interfering in the country’s ‎political situation.‎

In a statement on Thursday, the PMU stressed that it is not going to meddle in the public ‎demonstrations as it is a force tasked with ensuring the security and integrity of Iraq and ‎defending the country against terrorism.‎

The statement further dismissed rumors circulating on social media against the PMU, the ‎latest of which was about the deployment of military vehicles from the house of PMU ‎commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad’s Jadriyah neighborhood.‎

Muhandis, it said, has no base or house in Jadriyah and his office is the PMU headquarters in ‎the Green Zone of Baghdad.‎

The PMU played a decisive role in Iraq’s uphill 2014-2017 battle against the Daesh terrorist ‎group. The Iraqi parliament on November 26, 2016 approved a law giving full legal status to ‎PMU fighters.‎

The ongoing demonstrations in Iraq follow a previous bout of anti-government protests in ‎early October over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.‎

More than 200 have been killed and thousands of others wounded since the protests ‎erupted, with security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets against those taking to the ‎streets.‎

As part of efforts to meet the anti-corruption demands, the Iraqi Supreme Anti-Corruption ‎Council announced on Friday that it has issued arrest warrants for a minister, a provincial ‎council chief, five lawmakers, two former ministers, and 60 local officials for corruption.‎

Also in Thursday remarks, Iraqi President Barham Salih said the country’s embattled Prime ‎Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is ready to step down if a replacement is found, emphasizing that ‎a snap parliamentary election will be held once a new electoral law is passed.‎

Early elections cannot be held until a new electoral law is passed, Salih said, adding that he ‎expected a bill to be introduced in parliament by next week.‎

It took more than six months of negotiations before Abdul-Mahdi was appointed a year ago, ‎and finding a successor all the political factions can agree to will not be easy.‎

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