Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has thanked top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for his fatwa against ISIS terrorists, noting his 2014 religious decree has saved the country.

Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa in June 2014 – shortly after ISIS terror group launched its assault in Iraq – calling on all Iraqi citizens to defend their country.

The move succeeded in mobilizing volunteer forces behind army troops on the battlefield against the terrorist group.

“Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose,” said a representative of Ayatollah Sistani in his sermon at Friday prayers in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala at the time.

It came after Iraqi government forces suffered heavy blows on the battle ground against ISIS.

Abadi offered his “deep thanks” on Friday to Ayatollah Sistani for “his great and continuing support to the heroic fighters.”

He also said that the top cleric’s call “saved Iraq and paved the way for victory” over ISIS terrorists.

The remarks came a day after the Iraqi government announced it had recaptured Mosul’s landmark Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where ISIS’s leader proclaimed the group’s caliphate three years ago.