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Iran cleric says U.S., Israel behind Iraq unrest to disrupt Shi'ite pilgrimage there

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DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior Iranian cleric on Friday accused the United States and Israel of stoking unrest in Iraq to disrupt a major annual Shi’ite Muslim pilgrimage planned to be held there later this month, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported.

The death toll from days of violent demonstrations across Iraq surged to 44 on Friday.

“The enemy is now determined against the Islamic nation, America and Zionism … are targeting the Arbaeen (pilgrimage) and Iraq, and causing trouble because it is hard for them to accept the presence of millions (of pilgrims) in Karbala,” Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani said in a sermon, according to Tasnim.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Peter Graff)

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