Do not fight Iraqi forces, al-Sadr tells followers
"When we threatened an open war, it was meant against the occupation
and not against our people. There will be no war between Sadrists and Iraqi
brothers from any groups."
The black-turbanned cleric, who has not been seen in public for almost a
year and is believed to be studying in
His comments came as US and Iraqi forces pushed on with operations to combat
rogue elements of the Mahdi Army and other armed gangs in the Shia stronghold
The cleric, who launched two uprisings against US forces in 2004, ordered a ceasefire last summer that is seen as a key factor in a reduction in violence across the country over the subsequent months.
Fighting in recent weeks, however, has pushed the militia-freeze to the brink of collapse. The prospect of another Shia uprising could unravel much of the gains made on the security front at a time when US forces are starting to withdraw.
In fresh violence in and around
Sources at two hospitals said they had received the bodies of 11 people killed in air strikes, all men. Another 74 people, including nine women and 12 children, were wounded, the hospital sources said.
Away from the Shia strife,
Mr Maliki said yesterday that the parties that had walked out of his Cabinet
have agreed to rejoin. The main Sunni Arab bloc, the Accordance Front, said it
intended to submit a list of candidates for Cabinet positions within days. Its
return to the Government has been a major goal of the
Last modified 2008-04-29 06:01 AM