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Sadr receives hero’s welcome in Iraq

The leader of Iraq’s Sadr movement has returned to his country to receive a hero’s welcome in the holy city of Najaf after nearly four years away.

Moqtada al-Sadr arrived at the Imam Ali (PBUH) Mosque in Najaf on Wednesday amid cheers from hundreds of supporters who took on the streets of al-Hanana neighborhood to celebrate their leader’s return.

Sadr’s predominantly Shia bloc aired off a strong show of power in last year’s parliamentary elections and later gave key support to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was finally re-elected and formed a new cabinet.

Sadrist supporters from Baghdad including top-ranking officials in his political faction streamed to Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the capital, for the occasion.

His followers chanted “Imam Ali (PBUH) is with you” as they rolled through the streets of the shrine city.

His group said that Sadr is not visiting Iraq, but is back here to stay.

Before heading to his house, the Iraqi cleric also visited the grave of his father, who was assassinated during the Ba’athist regime headed by executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

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