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Iraq | International

Sadr orders fighters to stand down
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Sunday Mar 30th, 2008 9:59 AM
Sunday, March 30, 2008 : Iraqi Shia leader calls on followers to withdraw from streets after six days of clashes.
Muqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shia leader, has ordered his fighters to withdraw from the streets of several provinces, six days after Iraqi forces mounted a crackdown against Shia armed groups.

"We want the Iraqi people to stop this bloodshed and maintain Iraq's independence and stability," al-Sadr said in a statement released on Sunday.

"For that we have decided to withdraw [al-Sadr's Mahdi Army] from the streets of Basra and all other provinces."   At least 270 people have reportedly died since an Iraqi military crackdown in Basra sparked fighting across the country.

Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman said Muqtada al-Sadr's order will help restore peace.   "A large number of people will listen to Moqtada al-Sadr's call. Life will return to all of Iraq as before," Dabbagh said on Al-Iraqiya state television.   "Those who do not obey the instructions of the government and of Sadr, the government will be forced to implement the law against them."   Despite the order Iraqi troops will continue military operations in Basra, Dabbagh later told Reuters news agency.   "The operation in Basra will continue and will not stop until it achieves its goals

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§Iraqi cleric calls off militias
by BBC (reposted) Sunday Mar 30th, 2008 10:00 AM
Sunday, March 30, 2008 : Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr orders his fighters off the streets of several cities after five days of fighting.

Shia fighter in the southern city of Basra, March 30 The fighting began with operations against militias in Basra

He said in a statement that his movement wanted the Iraqi people to stop the bloodshed and maintain the nation's independence and stability.

The government, which had set a deadline to hand over weapons in return for cash, called the move "positive".

The fighting has claimed more than 240 lives across the country since Tuesday.

In Baghdad, the city's military command has extended a round-the-clock curfew for an indefinite period. The curfew had been due to end on Sunday morning.

'Not one of us'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has given militias until 8 April to surrender their weapons in return for cash.

BBC map

Moqtada Sadr's statement said: "Because of the religious responsibility, and to stop Iraqi blood being shed, and to maintain the unity of Iraq and to put an end to this sedition that the occupiers and their followers want to spread among the Iraqi people, we call for an end to armed appearances in Basra and all other provinces.

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