One of Iraq’s most extreme Shiite clerics is calling on his followers to halt attacks on US troops in Iraq in an effort to ensure the American withdrawal isn’t slowed, and to put pressure on Baghdad’s leaders wanting troops to stay.According to Reuters, Muqtada al-Sadr told his militias to cease operations against US soldiers until the full withdrawal is complete at the end of 2011. If the withdrawal is extended or US troops remain, he has promised renewed attacks.
“Out of my desire to complete Iraq’s independence and to finish the withdrawal of the occupation forces from our holy lands, I am obliged to halt military operations of the honest Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal of the occupation forces is complete,” al-Sadr said in a statement late Saturday.
And then he warned: “if the withdrawal doesn’t happen … the military operations will be resumed in a new and tougher way.”
US officials last week announced the commencement of the withdrawal of the final 45,000 troops in Iraq though Iraq and US officials are still wavering on whether any troops should remain.
President Obama is reportedly willing to keep between 3,000 and 10,000 troops in Iraq for training purposes.
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