BAGHDAD (AP) — Senior Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says the country must rein in the powerful Shiite militias battling the Islamic State militant group and have them coordinate more directly with the country's official armed forces.

Speaking at a press conference Monday with Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, al-Sadr said his followers are now "at the disposal of the army," adding he will work "to supplement militias and other armed groups with the army."

A number of militias, including al-Sadr's "Peace Brigades," answered calls last summer to fight alongside Iraq's beleaguered military, which virtually crumbled in the face of the militant onslaught. Many of those Shiite militias answer to different leaders, have been difficult to control and are often accused of brutal tactics, looting and discrimination against Sunni citizens.