The leader of Iraq's biggest Shiite party, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, passed away in a Tehran hospital on Wednesday aged 60 after a long battle with lung cancer. He died a few minutes ago after battling cancer for 28 months," his son Mohsen Hakim told AFP.
Hakim, a cleric who helped in the 1980s establish an opposition movement in exile against Saddam Hussein's regime, returned to Iraq after the US-led war in 2003.
His party - The Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council - swept Shiite areas in first provincial elections after the invasion but in new elections this January the party suffered major losses to the Dawaa Party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "The body of the head of the SIIC will be transferred to Najaf and the details of the mourning ceremony will be announced in due course," Mohsen Hakim told Iran's Fars news agency.
Hakim was admitted to hospital on Saturday after he developed a "medical complication", the son told AFP on Monday. "Mr. Hakim died in the hospital at 2:40 pm (1010 GMT)," Iranian state television quoted the head of the medical team treating him as saying.
"The advanced stage of cancer had damaged his liver, brain and bones and because of that he died," added the doctor.