One of Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite leaders died on Wednesday, according to two influential clerics, after his health deteriorated while he was being treated for lung cancer.
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim wielded enormous influence since the 2003 US 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, told The Associated Press that he died after being hospitalized in critical condition in Tehdran.
The 53-year-old al-Hakim was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2007 after tests at the prestigious University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He chose to receive his chemotherapy treatment in Iran.