Sadr sets conditions for disarming Iraq fighters

Demands they be given jobs or be incorporated into official forces

BAGHDAD: Iraqi powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr set conditions on Monday for his followers to hand over to the government the weapons they used to fight Daesh.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared final victory over the militant group on Saturday and said “the state should have a monopoly on the use of arms”. Iraq’s armed forces held a victory parade in Baghdad on Sunday.

In a televised speech, Sadr demanded that his fighters, drawn largely from among the urban poor of Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, be given jobs or be incorporated into the official armed and security forces.

He also demanded that the government “looks after the families of the martyrs” who fell during the three-year war against Daesh.

Sadr’s Saraya Al Salam, or Peace Brigades, are part of the mainly Shiite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) formed in response to Daesh’s swift advance across Iraq in 2014.

Iran has armed and trained many PMF groups but not his.

Iran-backed Harakat Hezbollah Al Nujaba, which has about 10,000 fighters and is one of the most important militias in Iraq, said last month it would give any heavy weapons it had to the military once Daesh was defeated.

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