It was the Mahdi Army—they are the ones who operate in the area.
But their mission, Mahdi leaders claim, goes beyond a narrow sectarian defense.
Without the Mahdi forces, Sudani said, the Iraqi army cannot succeed, but ultimately it must be the army that defeats ISIS.
1792, from Arabic mahdiy, literally "he who is guided aright," past participle of hada "to lead in the right way." Spiritual and temporal leader expected by some Muslims. Applied c.1880 to insurrectionary leaders in the Sudan who claimed to be him. Related: Mahdism.