Powerful Iraqi Shiite Leader Dies

Two influential clerics say one of Iraq's most powerful Shiite leaders has died after his health deteriorated while he was being treated for lung cancer.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim has wielded enormous influence since the 2003 U.S. invasion as head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, maintaining close ties to both the Americans and his Iranian backers.

Sheiks Humam Hamoudi and Jalaleddin al-Saghir, two senior clerics from al-Hakim's political party who've been in touch with his aides in Iran, tell The Associated Press that he died Wednesday after being hospitalized in critical condition in Tehran.

The 53-year-old al-Hakim was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2007 after tests at the prestigious University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He chose to receive his chemotherapy treatment in Iran.


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