Muqtada al-Sadr, a powerful Iraqi cleric, has called on forming defense units against radical militants for protecting country’s religious sites.
A state of emergency was declared in Iraq by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday after radical militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant attacked and occupied the oil-rich city of Mosul.
Sadr said in a written statement on Wednesday that he was ready “to form peace units to defend the holy places” of both Muslims and Christians, in cooperation with the government.
His call came after Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said the government would arm citizens who volunteer to fight militants, following the fall of Mosul and a swathe of other territory to ISIL.
Bloodshed in Iraq is now running at its highest levels since 2006-2007 in which tens of thousands were killed.