UPI: Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr Tuesday called on the Iraqi government to reinstate the 1,300 Iraqi security forces fired for desertion during recent fighting.
United Press International
Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr Tuesday called on the Iraqi government to reinstate the 1,300 Iraqi security forces fired for desertion during recent fighting.
Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said more than 900 Iraqi forces in Basra were fired and an additional 400 police officers in Kut were let go because they were either loyal to Sadr's Mahdi Army or refused to fight for sectarian reasons.
Sadr issued a statement from his offices in Najaf saying the Iraqi servicemen who turned their weapons over to militias had followed orders from their clerics, the BBC said.
"All the brothers in the army and police who gave up their arms to their brothers were only obeying their grand religious leaders and they were driven by their religious duties," the statement read.
Sadr said in the statement the government should "reconsider" its decision, adding, "I demand they be reinstated and even rewarded for their loyalty and devotion to their religion."
The BBC said various Iraqi observers considered the inability of security forces acting under the authority of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "an embarrassment" to the national government.