Qassem Soleimani tells PMU, officials to back Iraqi PM during Baghdad meeting

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Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Force, instructed commanders of the Popular Mobilization Unit militias to support Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi during a secret meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday, five sources familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

Sources close to two of the most influential figures in Iraq also told Reuters that Iran had intervened to prevent the overthrow of Abdul Mahdi amid demonstrations which erupted weeks ago to protest the government’s performance.

The populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded this week that Abdul Mahdi calls for early elections to calm the largest popular protests.

Sadr urged his main political rival, Hadi al-Amiri, the head of an alliance of Iran-backed Shia militia leaders, to assist in the overthrow of Abdul Mahdi.

An Iranian security official confirmed Soleimani was present at a meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday and that he was there to “advise”.

The Iranian official, who asked not to be named, said that the Iraqi security “is important to us and we have helped before. The Quds Force commander travels to Iraq and other countries in the region from time to time, especially when our allies ask us for help.”

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