BAGHDAD: Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has made recommendations to President Fuad Masum and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri for reforming the Hashd al-Shaabi, according to statements issued Monday by the offices of both officials.
The Hashd al-Shaabi is an umbrella group of Shia militias that is now slated for formal integration into the Iraqi armed forces.
According to al-Jabouri's office, al-Sadr's raft of recommendations included suggestions for streamlining the Hashd al-Shaabi's operations, financially and administratively.
Al-Sadr had also emphasized that group members "should not be affiliated with any political faction", al-Jabouri's office said in the statement.
On Saturday, 208 out of 328 members of parliament called for officially incorporating the Hashd al-Shaabi into the Iraqi armed forces in a parliamentary vote that was boycotted by Sunni lawmakers.
The State Department said Monday that the decision was an "internal Iraqi matter" but expressed concerns and wanted things to be settled in a way that "doesn't further inflame sectarian tensions".
Established in 2014, the Hashd al-Shaabi is an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias drawn up with the express purpose of fighting the Daesh terrorist group.
The Hashd al-Shaabi has stirred controversy, however, with some of its members having been accused of committing abuses against Sunni civilians in areas they had "liberated" from Daesh.
Iraq's security situation has deteriorated markedly since mid-2014, when Daesh captured the city of Mosul -- now the target of a wide-ranging military campaign -- and overran vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.
Source: Anadolu Agency