Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is asking his followers to cease attacks against U.S. targets until the end of the year when U.S. forces are scheduled to complete their withdrawal from Iraq. According to a statement posted online today, should any Americans remain after Dec. 31, Sadr promises that attacks "will resume with greater vigor." The goal is to eliminate one significant reason for a troop extension.
Last July, a US forces spokesman, Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, charged three Shi’ite groups tied to Sadr with staging deadly attacks against U.S. troops. One in particular, the Promised Day Brigades, was itself the target of a U.S. air strike in June and is the group Sadr is mostly speaking to. The other two groups, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, are no longer directly associated with Sadr, but could take the request into consideration.
Sadr also controls six cabinet posts and 40 seats in parliament. His critical support of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after the premier came in second during last year’s elections could be the most important reason that Iraq has yet to demand that U.S. troops stay beyond the withdrawal date. Without Sadr, Maliki loses a considerable amount of power when he is already saddled with increasing public discontent, some of it goaded on by Sadr himself.
The new appeal, however, did not prevent three bombs from blasting a U.S. patrol near Qalat Sikar village in Dhi Qar province. Casualties, if any, were not reported.
At least one Iraqi was killed and 13 others were wounded in other violence.
A sticky bomb killed a civilian in Baquba.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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