September 29, 2017 / 10:07 AM / a year ago

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Sistani opposes secession of Kurdish region

BAGHDAD, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric opposes the secession of the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, his representative Ahmed al-Safi said in a Friday sermon on his behalf in the holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani asked the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “to return to the constitutional path” in pursuing self-determination for the Kurdish people, Safi said in the sermon.

It is the first direct political sermon by Sistani since early 2016, in a clear sign that he attaches importance to the crisis opposing Baghdad and the KRG, triggered by an independence referendum held in Kurdish northern Iraq on Monday.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli;editing by John Stonestreet

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