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June 11, 2004

al-Sadr Calls for "New Start;" Backs US Transfer of Power

Not that we're all big fans of al-Sadr. But this would seem further evidence of al-Sadr's political isolation (and military defeat).

Radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has reportedly backed for the first time US moves to gradually hand powers over to an interim Iraqi government.
The change of heart came in a sermon at Friday prayers in the town of Kufa, two weeks after the government was formed.

Mr Sadr, a firebrand whose militia has fought US forces since March, called for a new start and an end to conflict, according to witnesses.

But his supporters clashed with members of a pro-US faction in nearby Najaf.

Stones and shoes were thrown in the clash at the shrine of Imam Ali leaving several people injured and forcing the cancellation of Friday prayers.


Mr Sadr called upon the interim government to work to end the occupation according to a timetable set by Iraqi officials, reported a correspondent for Voice of Mujahidin radio present at the sermon.

Mr Sadr added that the formation of the government was a good opportunity to bury past differences and "forge ahead toward the building of a unified Iraq".

There has not been any official reaction to Mr Sadr's conciliatory speech in Kufa, where he delivers fiery Friday sermons at the main mosque every week.


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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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