Abu Deraa was spotted as Shia militias gathered to confront the Sunni insurgency. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili
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Abu Deraa sits at home in Baghdad's Sadr City, ringed by images of 7th-century Shiite imams Ali and Hussein. A hero to Shiite militiamen during Iraq's civil war, he no longer fights but still stirs the hearts of men now battling ISIS.Abu Deraa, who at 57 speaks in a hoarse voice and lumbers when he walks, makes appearances around Iraq, praying at the Shiite shrine of Samarra in the north or touring the Shiite southern heartland.Sadr, who gained political influence a decade ago as a militant leader in the southern holy city of Najaf during the U.S. occupation, holds sway over tens of thousands of fighters.Abu Deraa, who cried when speaking of his allegiance to Shiite Islam's first two imams, Ali and Hussein, spoke of a centuries old struggle for Shiite survival.When the U.S. military doubled its numbers in 2007, Abu Deraa no longer felt safe in Iraq.
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