Iraq's top Shia cleric condemns killings, kidnappings of protesters: representative

Armed forces 'must be loyal to the nation'
FILE: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (FILE/EPA)

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SULAIMANI — Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday (December 13) condemned recent killings and kidnappings of protesters, urging the state to assert control over the widespread use of weapons.

He also called on the armed forces to remain professional, loyal to the state and free from foreign influence, a representative of Sistani said during a sermon on Friday in the holy city of Karbala.

Armed forces “must be loyal to the nation, and free from foreign interference,” he said.

Iraq has been rocked anti-government protests for more than two months. More than 440 people have been killed since Oct. 1, according to a Reuters tally.

Sistani, who rarely weighs in on politics except in times of crisis, holds massive influence over public opinion in Shia majority Iraq.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said he would resign last month after Sistani withdrew his support for the government.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)