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Karbala's Friday Prayers Leader Rejects US Congress Disintegration Plot

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 Representative of Iraq’s most senior religious leadership Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday strongly opposed a recent defense bill proposed by the US Congress to consider Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis as a separate country.

Such a plot is unacceptable, and political groups and representatives should take clear stance against the bill,” Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalaei said, addressing a large gathering of worshippers in the holy city of Karbala.

“The foreign aid given to Iraqis for the fight against terrorism and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) should not at all harm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,” Alsumaria TV quoted him as saying.

The draft of the US annual defense bill, which was released on April 27 by the House Armed Services Committee, urges the US government to recognize separate Kurdish and Sunni states and provide them with at least 25 percent of the $715mln aid money planned to be given to the Iraqi government to help it fight the ISIL terrorist group.

The draft bill also says the figure could even amount to 60 percent of the money, about $429 million.

The bill mandates that the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard be deemed a “country”, adding that doing so would allow these security forces to directly receive assistance from the United States.

In a similar statement on Wednesday, Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr also threatened to hit the US interests in and out of Iraq over a proposed defense bill yet to be approved by the US, which he said could divide Iraq.

"The US House of Representatives intends to pass a draft law on Iraq making each sect independent from the other, and this will be the beginning of Iraq's division," Sadr said in a statement.