The leader of Iraq’s Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, Qais al-Khazali, has decided to close the militia’s offices across the country.
Clashes have recently erupted in Iraq where the political crisis pits followers of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr against mostly Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups.
In a statement posted on Twitter, al-Khazali ordered shutting down the militia’s offices until further notice and called on his followers not to respond to any provocations such as burning down offices.
Earlier on Thursday, Reuters quoted local security officials as saying that four people were killed in clashes among rival Shia Muslim militants in the southern Iraqi city of Basra that took place overnight and on Thursday morning.
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The exchange of fire triggered panic only days after clashes between al-Sadr supporters and rival Iran-backed factions turned Baghdad’s highly-secure Green Zone into a battlefield.
The lives of 30 al-Sadr supporters were lost in nearly 24 hours of clashes that erupted on Monday after they stormed the government headquarters in the Green Zone, which houses state institutions and foreign embassies.
The attack in Basra drew strong condemnation from al-Sadr representative Mohammed Saleh al-Iraqi, who lashed out at al-Khazali.
“I warn you, Qais! If you do not restrain your insolent militias and if you do not absolve yourself of the murderers and criminals that are affiliated to you... you too are insolent,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq is part of the Hashed al-Shaabi, a pro-Iran ex-paramilitary network now integrated into the country’s security forces.
Since elections in October 2021, Iraq has been paralyzed due to disagreement between Shia factions over forming a coalition, leaving the country without a new government, prime minister or president.
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