World

Iraqi Shiite cleric calls on premier to avoid promoting sectarianism in new national guard

  • In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, an Iraqi Shiite militiamen stands alert after clashes with militants from the Islamic State group, near Qara Tappa, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad in Iraq's Diyala province. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)

    In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, an Iraqi Shiite militiamen stands alert after clashes with militants from the Islamic State group, near Qara Tappa, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad in Iraq's Diyala province. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, an Iraqi Shiite militiamen takes cover after clashes with militants from the Islamic State group, near Qara Tappa, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad in Iraq's Diyala province. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)

    In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, an Iraqi Shiite militiamen takes cover after clashes with militants from the Islamic State group, near Qara Tappa, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad in Iraq's Diyala province. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 photo released by the U.S. Air Force, a B-1B Lancer disengages from a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling during U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria. Nearly 2 out of 3 Americans back U.S. airstrikes to combat Islamic extremists and half also think there's a high risk of a future terrorist attack on American soil. Americans surveyed for an Associated Press-GfK poll are split on whether they approve of the way President Barack Obama is generally handling the threat from the Islamic State group and other terrorists. Yet despite more than a decade of costly war, about a third favor going even beyond airstrikes and putting U.S. military boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria — something Obama says he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs, U.S. Air Force)

    In this Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 photo released by the U.S. Air Force, a B-1B Lancer disengages from a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling during U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria. Nearly 2 out of 3 Americans back U.S. airstrikes to combat Islamic extremists and half also think there's a high risk of a future terrorist attack on American soil. Americans surveyed for an Associated Press-GfK poll are split on whether they approve of the way President Barack Obama is generally handling the threat from the Islamic State group and other terrorists. Yet despite more than a decade of costly war, about a third favor going even beyond airstrikes and putting U.S. military boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria — something Obama says he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs, U.S. Air Force)  (The Associated Press)

Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called upon the prime minister to create a national security force that doesn't promote sectarianism at a time of heightened tensions between ethnic and religious groups.

The national guard, proposed by Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, should be a force of "patriotism and purity" to help pull the country out of the crisis, the reclusive al-Sistani said in his Friday sermon delivered by his spokesman Abdul Mehdi Karbalaie in the city of Karbala.

Militants with Islamic State group too parts of western and northern Iraq this year, causing the Iraqi military to fracture while tensions intensified between Muslim sects.

Al-Sistani called upon al-Abadi to select a defense and interior minister following the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday next week.