BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric says more than 13 million have gathered in the holy city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen, the annual commemoration marking the end of the mourning period for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and a central figure in Shiite Islam.

RELATED: Millions of Shiites gather in Karbala to mark Arbaeen

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani praised Iraqi security forces Friday for securing the routes in and out of Karbala for visitors traveling from across Iraq and beyond.

Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai, Sistani’s representative, delivered the cleric’s message following Friday prayers.

Imam Hussein was

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