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Fallujah sends delegation to meet Sadr
by The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Sunday May 16th, 2004 2:54 PM
Sunnis could fight alongside Mehdi Army--
NAJAF, Iraq: Townsmen from the flashpoint town of Fallujah met radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday, Shiite sources said, as Islam's rival sects made common cause against the US-led coalition.

"They met Sayed Moqtada and told him: 'We support you and call for the defense of Iraq, Najaf, Karbala and other holy cities,'" an aide of cleric Hussam al-Musawi told AFP.

Musawi also confirmed that Sunnis from Fallujah could fight alongside Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

"Yes, if the request is made, that could happen," he said in response to questions.

The Fallujah delegation was headed by representatives from the Sunni Committee of ulama, or clerics.

Earlier, a convoy of nine pickup trucks filled with food and medicines from Fallujah arrived in the Shiite militia's stronghold of Kufa.

The trucks were parked outside Kufa's grand mosque, a stronghold of Sadr, who normally delivers the sermon at the main weekly Muslim prayers in the town.

They were filled with what appeared to be bags of flour and sugar as well as blankets, cans of cooking oil and boxes marked "surgical and medical" aid.

The trucks bore banners proclaiming: "The hearts of the people of Fallujah are with the patient people of Najaf." Another read: "From the delegation of the (Sunni) Muslim clergy in Fallujah to the brave people of Najaf." Announcements over the mosque's loudspeakers greeted the trucks arrival.

"The delegation of the noble people of Fallujah is welcome amid its mujahideen brothers." Inside the mosque, the delegation met with Sadr's representatives in Kufa.

"Muslims should be one arm against their common enemy," said Sheikh Fawzi Abdullah Abed, a delegate from Fallujah.

"Iraq is for everyone and it is our common duty to defend our land and honor." He refused to say whether Sunnis in Fallujah or elsewhere would be providing men and arms for Sadr, who has led an uprising against the coalition in central and southern Iraq since the start of April.

"This is not the kind of information we want to share with the press," he said.

One of Sadr's deputies in Kufa, Sheikh Taher al-Asadi, thanked the visitors for their "brotherly feelings." As he spoke, Sadr's fighters were moving boxes of rocket-propelled grenades inside the mosque.

Fallujah endured a month-long onslaught by US marines earlier this year that cost hundreds of lives after the killing and mutilation of four American security contractors in the town.

The Sunni bastion has become a byword for armed resistance to the occupation.