Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iraqi gov't, Sadrists reach a peace agreement

Sat, 10 May 2008 14:39:53
US military attacks on Sadr City began in March.

The movement of Shia Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says an agreement has been reached with the government to provide Iraq with more security.

Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, the spokesman for the movement's office in the holy city of Najaf, told AFP that the agreement will be effective from Sunday. He added that the roads leading to Sadr City would be open tomorrow.

Since March 25, Baghdad's Sadr City has been a target of US military attacks in which hundreds of civilians have been killed.

The agreement was reached following talks between Sadr movement and a delegation representing Nouri al-Maliki's government, al-Obeidi said, adding that the deal would not include the disbanding of the Mahdi Army.

Based on the agreement, the US attacks against the movement is to be stopped, the source added.

Meanwhile, on the May,11 US military spokesman, Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, said the 14-point agreement between the members of the al-Sadr movement and Iraqi government had led to a 'decline in operations' from last night in Sadr City. Hundreds of people have been killed and scores wounded since then.

Children play around a destroyed vehicle in Sadr City
"The talks made in Iran were followed by more talks here in Baghdad with the representatives of the Sadr bloc," he added.

Asked if he believed that the Iranians had pressured Mahdi Army to reach the agreement, al-Adeeb said, "I don't want to say it is pressure. But the Iranians have their point of view. We told them that imposing security is for the benefit of all parties in Iraq."

Shia groups and the Iraqi government on Saturday agreed to end fighting in Sadr City, which had erupted after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on the southern city of Basra.

The crackdown had triggered a wave of clashes in other parts of Iraq.

"Mahdi Army will honor the deal reached on Saturday to end weeks of deadly fighting in the impoverished Baghdad district of Sadr City" Sadr's spokesman Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi quoted the cleric as saying on Monday.

"Sadr himself authorized the delegation to negotiate and to reach an agreement which stopped the flow of Iraqi blood," Obeidi added.

The cleric also stated that the deal would still stand even if there were skirmishes.

Obeidi said Saturday's accord, aimed at ending seven weeks of fighting in the Baghdad slum district, was expected to be fully implemented by Wednesday.

The Sadr City fighting followed a government security crackdown in the southern port city and oil hub of Basra.

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