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Three faiths, three commanders

The Popular Mobilization Units, initially identified as a Shiite militia, is changing the course of the battles in Iraq with participation of Sunnis and Christians.
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During the Arbaeen celebrations between the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, I came across a commander with a wound on his arm. Sabih al Hajj Abu Yahia from Basra is a founder of the Zeinab Akile Brigades, a part of the Popular Mobilization Units. Telling me why he joined the war, he said, “We couldn’t allow Sistani’s wishes to go unheeded.”

After issuing a fatwa, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani mobilized the militias after the fall of Mosul in June 2014 and stopped the advance of the Islamic State (IS) to Baghdad.

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