Top Shi’ite Cleric Endorses Fighting in Syria

Fatwa Authorizes Shi'ites to Go to Syria to Fight

Grand Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, an influential Shi’ite religious leader and former leader of the Iraqi Dawa Party, has issued a fatwa authorizing foreign Shi’ites to go to Syria to fight against Sunni Islamists.

Though based in Iran, Haeri is most influential in Iraq, and his fatwa is likely to dramatically increase the number of Iraqi Shi’ite militias sending fighters to Syria.

The Syrian Civil War has grown increasingly sectarian in nature, with Sunni Islamists dominating the rebels and Shi’ite factions like Hezbollah sending forces, initially just to protect religious sites, but eventually playing a major role in combat.

The fatwa is likely to underscore this trend, with Syria’s fate increasingly an afterthought as the two major sects of Islam are finding it turned into a battlefield for a centuries-old battle.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.