Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani to undergo surgery for broken leg

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The 89-year-old's injury comes at a tense time in Iraq as protesters struggle to regain momentum for their cause

Jan 16, 2020

January 16, 2020

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Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani has fractured his left thigh bone, a source from his office said.

"His Eminence was subjected to a twisting in the left leg that led to a fracture of the thigh bone, and he will be operated on today," a statement from a source in his office read.

An Iraqi medical team will perform the operation, the statement said.

Mr Al Sistani’s health could prove crucial to the stability of Iraq especially as the country is caught between US-Iran escalations following the killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani earlier this month.

It was the most serious escalation of tension between Washington and Tehran in years and raised fears of a full-scale conflict in the Middle East between the two foes.

The cleric was quick to denounce the attacks, calling it a "a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty" and added that no foreign powers should be allowed to decide Iraq's fate.

Mr Al Sistani is Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric who has given a significant boost to the country’s protest movement.

Iraq has been rocked by anti-government protests that pushed Mr Al Sistani to urge authorities to address complaints made by the public.

Since last October, protesters, most of them young, are demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty.

Their demands were met with a violent government crackdown that killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands of civilians.

Mr Al Sistani called on the government to enact a new election law and constitutional reforms in November, which was seen as his most outspoken support for protesters who have taken to the streets in Baghdad and southern Iraq for more than three months.

Updated: January 16, 2020 01:45 PM

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