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Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Sadr sets conditions for disarming his fighters after Islamic State defeated

File photo: Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr gestures as he delivers a speech over U.S.President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Baghdad, Iraq December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi powerful Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr set conditions on Monday for his followers to hand over to the government the weapons they used to fight Islamic State.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over the militant Sunni group on Saturday and said "the state should have a monopoly on the use of arms". Iraq's armed forces held a victory parade in Baghdad on Sunday.

In a televised speech, Sadr demanded that his fighters, drawn largely from among the urban poor of Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, be given jobs or be incorporated into the official armed and security forces.

He also demanded that the government "looks after the families of the martyrs" who fell during the three-year war against Islamic State.

Sadr's Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Brigades, are part of the mainly Shi'ite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) formed in response to Islamic State's swift advance across Iraq in 2014. Iran has armed and trained many PMF groups but not his.

Iran-backed 'Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba', which has about 10,000 fighters and is one of the most important militias in Iraq, said last month it would give any heavy weapons it had to the military once Islamic State was defeated.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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