Iraq: Prominent cleric disbands two Shia militias

- Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has disbanded the al-Youm al-Mawud and al-Salam brigades after the killing of a Sunni tribal chief.

BAGHDAD (AA) - The prominent Iraqi Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, has disbanded two Shia militias, the al-Youm al-Mawud and al-Salam brigades, it was announced in a statement Tuesday.

"I declare the freezing of al-Youm al-Mawud and al-Salam brigades, and I am ready to cooperate with competent authorizes to reveal criminals who killed Sheikh Qassim al-Janabi," al-Sadr said.

The decision to disband the Shia militias came after demands of Sunni groups. On Friday, the Iraqi Sunni Members of Parliament had boycotted parliamentary sessions Saturday after militias kidnapped Seif al-Janabi, a Sunni member of parliament, and killed his uncle, Kasem al-Janabi, chief of al-Janabat Sunni tribe, in Baghdad. Later, the parliamentarian was set free.

Al-Sadr had permanently disbanded the Jaysh al-Mahdi group in 2011 and reformed its militant wing into al-Youm al-Mawud brigade. He had also established the al-Salam brigades in June 2014 for the supposed defense of Islamic holy sites in Iraq from militant groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

A fatwa, or a religious ruling, for jihad was also issued against the ISIL in June 2014 in support of the Shia militias by Shia leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is originally from Iran and lives in the Iraqi city of Najaf.

Iraq witnessed one of its worst sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias in 2006 and 2007.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014 when ISIL militants stormed the northern province of Mosul and declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

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