Iraqi Shia Group Suspends Its "Operations" ahead of Papal Visit
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Iraqi Shia Group Suspends Its "Operations" ahead of Papal Visit

ERBIL - An Iraqi Shia militia group has announced the suspension of its "operations" ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the country scheduled for Friday, 5 March.

Saraya Awliya al-Dam, or the Guardians of Blood, which recently claimed responsibility for the February 15 rocket attack on Erbil, said in a statement on Thursday that all of its attacks will completely be suspended during the upcoming three-day visit of Pope in Iraq.

The statement noted that the group will halt all forms of military actions "to respect" Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, adding "because we are Arabs and we honor the guest."

"We welcome the Pope of the Vatican," the statement continued.

Pope Francis will arrive Iraq on Friday for a three-day visit. During his historic visit, he will also head to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan Region, and hold separate meetings with top Kurdish officials.