File - Men pray at a cemetery for militiamen killed in the fight against ISIS militants, in Najaf.
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Every chapter of Iraq's modern history can be seen in this great, sprawling city of the dead, its mausoleums stretching across the horizon from one of Shiite's holiest shrines.Shiite militias, backed by Iranian advisers, have played a key role in halting the extremist's advance and helped Iraq recently retake the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.In one section given to a Shiite militia, Ahmad Hamid washed the grave of his cousin killed three months ago while fighting against the militants near the city of Samarra, home to another holy Shiite shrine. Iraqi authorities have refused to offer any casualty figures for security forces or the Shiite militias battling ISIS. Jabir al-Bugharban, a guard at that section of the graveyard, said it was originally built for Iraqi Shiite fighters killed in Syria's war, but later expanded to take in those killed in battle against ISIS in Iraq.
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