RealNews

Agreement by U.S. and Rebels to End Fighting in Najaf

American forces and guerrillas loyal to the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed Thursday to quit fighting in Najaf, in a deal that signaled the possible end of seven weeks of fighting in the city, during which scores of Iraqis have died. The agreement, hammered out between Mr. Sadr and Iraqi leaders and approved by the Americans, requires that the fighters of the Mahdi Army get off the streets — and if they are from other cities, to leave — and for the Americans to pull most of their forces out of the city. The Americans can still maintain a handful of posts inside the city and send soldiers on patrol. The deal also applies to the nearby city of Kufa, the site of Mr. Sadr’s mosque. Allowing the Mahdi Army to continue intact, as long as it remains off the streets, is a major concession to Mr. Sadr. In another, Iraqi officials agreed to “suspend” the arrest warrant for him that cites his suspected involvement in the murder of a rival cleric in April 2003. That represents, at least for now, a reversal for the Americans, who have said repeatedly that they intend to “kill or capture” Mr. Sadr and “destroy” the Mahdi Army. Full Story

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