Candidates are backed by a coalition of 22 parties and groups called the United Iraqi Alliance. The alliance has the support of leading Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani
Ali al-Adeeb, an official of the Islamic Da'wah party, said the United Iraqi Alliance includes three major Shi'ite political parties (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, Islamic Da'wah party, and Iraqi National Congress), a Shi'ite Kurdish group, members of the Yazidis
minority faith, and a Turkoman movement.
Voters will choose a 275-member National Assembly, which in turn will name a new government and appoint a body that will write a new constitution.
In Brussels, NATO foreign ministers agreed today to expand the alliance's training mission in Iraq from the current 60 to 300 personnel "as soon as possible."
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said several NATO allies had come forward with offers of soldiers at the meeting of foreign ministers, including Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands.
(Reuters/AP/AFP)Related story:Iran May Extend Election Amid ViolenceFor more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated The New Iraq webpage.