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Three days after Mosul fell to the Daesh (ISIS) in 2014, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on Iraqis to volunteer to fight the militants, a step that helped to halt their sweeping offensive.Sistani made the call via a representative speaking at Friday prayers on June 13, 2014, days after multiple Iraqi divisions collapsed in the face of the Daesh assault in the north.It sparked a flood of volunteers who were organised under what became known as the Hashed al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation forces -- an umbrella group for pro-government paramilitaries that is officially under the command of the country's premier.But pre-existing Shiite militias that took part in the brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian bloodshed that plagued Iraq in past years were also placed under the Hashed al-Shaabi banner and have played a major role in operations against Daesh.
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