ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned on Monday against the consequences of throwing Iraq into the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran following targeted airstrikes by the US against Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
In a statement on his official Twitter page, Sadr said he does not support the “fueling of war between Iran and the US,” and that he is against Iraq “becoming an arena for the conflict.”
“We need a serious stand by the senior [government] officials to keep Iraq away from the ferocious war that will eat green and dry land,” he continued.
The US launched five strikes on Sunday against facilities belonging to the Iraqi militia, Kata’ib Hizbollah, as it charged that the Iranian-backed militia was behind Friday’s lethal attack on K-1, an Iraqi military base outside Kirkuk.
In what appeared to be a retaliatory strike, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said four Katyusha rockets hit the al-Taji military base – located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad – which houses American troops.
In his statement on Monday, Sadr called on the Iraqi people “to raise their voices” and “condemn those who want to bring Iraq to war.”
The incidents come amid ongoing anti-government protests in central and southern parts of Iraq that have left over 500 people dead and scores more injured, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.
“We need peace and reconstruction,” Sadr concluded. “Iraq does not want war, and any party that throws Iraq into war will be the enemy of the people.”
Sadr is the leader of the Sairoon Coalition, which came first in last year’s election with 54 seats out of a total of 329.