icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Rouhani meets Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Sistani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq’s Najaf on Wednesday in the first encounter between an Iranian president and the country’s chief Shiite cleric, AFP reported. Sistani called Iraqis to arms against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in 2014, giving rise to the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance, which includes Iranian-backed Shiite groups. Those forces have since been placed under the command of regular Iraqi forces. Sistani, who rejects foreign influence in Iraq, is a spiritual leader to most of Iraq’s Shiites and some in Iran. He heads the religious establishment of Najaf, a Shiite holy city in Iraq that rivals Iran’s Qom. In 2013, the octogenarian leader refused to meet then-president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.