Ayatollah Sistani calls on volunteers to defend Iraq, its citizens and shrines

The Washington Post reports: Shiite clerics called on Iraqi civilians Friday to take up arms against advancing Sunni insurgents inspired by al-Qaeda, drawing the battle lines for a major sectarian confrontation in the fracturing state.

President Obama, meanwhile, said he would not exercise any military option until Iraq’s leaders show they are committed to bridging their differences with the opposition.

With heavily armed fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seizing more territory overnight in a rampage that threatens to tear the country apart, Iraqi officials said tens of thousands of civilians had volunteered to fight alongside the crumbling security forces.

Shiite religious leaders, including Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, used Friday prayers to call on the faithful to take up arms against the radical Sunni Muslim insurgents. In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani urged anyone who can carry a weapon to “defend the country, the citizens and the holy sites.” [Continue reading…]

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