Iraq's Sadr mourns Soleimani, says followers ready to defend Iraq: statement

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Populist Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr mourned on Friday the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leaders in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad and said his militias were ready to defend Iraq.

“As the patron of the patriotic Iraqi resistance I give the order for all mujahideen, especially the Mehdi Army, Promised Day Brigade, and all patriotic and disciplined groups to be ready to protect Iraq,” he said in a statement.

Sadr, who positions himself as a nationalist rejecting both U.S. and Iranian interference in Iraq, called on all sides to behave with “wisdom and shrewdness” however.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Maha El Dahan