RealNews

Cleric Tells Fighters and Occupiers to Leave Iraq Sacred Cities

The country’s most influential cleric called Tuesday for the withdrawal of all armies from two holy cities, Karbala and Najaf, in an effort to end days of bloody fighting and preserve the sanctity of Shiite shrines. The Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demanded in a statement that “armed forces” must “leave the holy cities and open the way for the police and tribal forces.” His remarks were directed at both American troops and militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, a young rebel cleric who ignited an insurrection against the occupation forces six weeks ago. Ayatollah Sistani also asked people to stage peaceful protests in the cities against the fighting. In a parallel development, two of Washington’s strongest allies in Iraq, Italy and Poland, called for the transfer of real authority to the Iraqis on June 30. Full Story

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