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The Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters from mainly Iran-backed paramilitary units that battled the Islamic State group, was ahead in four provinces and second in eight others.

BAGHDAD — The surprisingly strong showing of a ticket backed by maverick cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraqi elections over the weekend will force US officials to recalculate how best to proceed in the region at an especially sensitive moment.

Closes the three leaders of the party of the current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Reuters could not independently verify the document's authenticity but the results showed Sadr had won the nationwide popular vote, with more than 1.3 million votes, and gained 54 of 329 seats in Parliament.

Abadi - who got here to energy as IS swept throughout Iraq in 2014 - is a consensus determine who has balanced off the U.S. and Iran.

The other leading challengers have often taken a stronger stance against the United States.

Crowds of mainly young people waved flags and pictures of the populist nationalist cleric Sadr while fireworks fired off into the night sky.

Officials said turnout was only 44 percent, the lowest ever since Saddam Hussein's ouster.

Zeid al-Zamili, 33, described the vote as "a victory over the corrupt" and a "new chapter for the Iraqi folks".

Both Sadr and Ameri are political veterans well-known to Iraqis, but they pitched themselves as outsiders seeking to sweep clean the country's reviled elite. "We support a fair and transparent process", he said.

But despite improved security, Iraq is still struggling to rebuild itself after four years of war against IS, the BBC's Martin Patience in Baghdad says.

If the results hold, Sadr, a strident critic of the United States who commands a militia that fought U.S. troops during the occupation of Iraq, could be in pole position to determine Iraq's next leader.

"We have no religion", stated Naufel Nafea, 24, who's unemployed regardless of incomes a level in engineering and didn't vote.

"We are prepared to contribute to the development and construction of Iraq", he concluded.

Over two million people remain internally displaced across the country and IS - while weakened - still has the capability to launch deadly attacks.

The US-led coalition that helped battle IS pledged Sunday to work with the elected authorities to make sure the "lasting defeat" of IS and stated the ballot proved Iraqis "emphatically rejected violent extremism".