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Iraq: Al-Sadr announces dissolution of armed faction

Leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr [Twitter]
Leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr [Twitter]

Leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada Al-Sadr decided on Friday to dissolve his Promised Day Brigade in a "goodwill" gesture to dissolve the armed factions in Iraq.

Al-Sadr announced in a statement: "As a goodwill gesture, I announce the dissolution of the Promised Day Brigade and the closure of its headquarters."

He added: "Were it not for the fact that they had previously handed over their weapons to the Peace Brigades, I would have ordered them to hand over their weapons and they would have obeyed. They are still loyal to us and their country."

He continued: "And if [the weapon] is found, they should hand it over within 24 hours. I hope that this step will be the beginning of dissolving the armed factions, handing over their weapons and closing their headquarters, and even being a message of safety and peace for all people."

The Promised Day Brigade is an armed faction formed by Al-Sadr in 2008 to fight US occupation forces that left Iraq in 2011, but returned at the request of Baghdad in 2014 to fight terrorist organisation Daesh.

READ: Shia cleric, Sadr, eyes national majority government in Iraq

Al-Sadr still has another faction called Saraya Al-Salam, which is part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces officially affiliated with the Iraqi armed forces.

In a press conference on Thursday, Al-Sadr called on the political forces objecting to the election results to: "Dissolve the armed factions at once and hand over their weapons to the Popular Mobilisation through the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces."

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades demanded that Al-Sadr hand over his armed faction's weapons first to the Popular Mobilisation Authority.

According to the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections last month, the Sadrist bloc won 73 seats out of 329.

Al-Fateh coalition, a political umbrella for the armed factions, is the main loser in the elections, with 16 seats, after coming second with 48 seats in the 2018 elections.

For weeks, the political forces rejecting the election results, most notably the armed Shia factions, have led mass protests in Baghdad, calling for all results to be manually recounted.

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