Iraqi Shia leader warns against US occupation

26 March 2003
A prolonged US presence in Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein could spark an armed revolt by the Iraqi people, Iraqi Shiite opposition leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim warned at a press conference on 25 March. Al-Hakim leads the Iran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), which has about 5,000 of its military wing, the Badr Brigade, in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. 'The Iraqi nation will resist and use any legitimate means against foreigners' occupation of Iraq, should they decide to remain,' he said. 'Legitimate means can include force and weapons.' Al-Hakim has close ties with Iran's clerical establishment and his organisation is also one of those that has conferred with the US on the political shape of post-war Iraq.

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