BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Powerful Shi‘ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his armed followers to withdraw from the streets of Baghdad districts that have been hit by deadly bombings claimed by Islamic State, an aide said on Wednesday.
Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Brigades, had deployed hundreds of militiamen in Sadr City and five other mainly Shi‘ite areas of the capital after he accused the government of failing to prevent the attacks by the hardline Sunni group.
At least 77 people were killed and more than 140 wounded by three bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday, extending the deadliest spate of attacks in the Iraqi capital so far this year.
The cleric “ordered that no arm be displayed in public, avoid friction with the security forces and avoid being dragged into violence,” one aide said.
Witnesses said Saraya al-Salam pulled out of the streets of Sadr City overnight on Tuesday.
The bombings cranked up pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to solve a political crisis brought on by his attempt to reshuffle the cabinet in a drive to tackle corruption.
The crisis has crippled parliament and hampered government action, creating space for more insurgent attacks on civilians.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Kareem Raheem; Editing by Angus MacSwan