- Title: IRAQ: FIERCE FIGHTING CONTINUES AROUND THE IMMAM ALI MOSQUE IN NAJAF
- Date: 25th August 2004
- Summary: (EU) SAFWAN, IRAQ (AUGUST 25, 2004) (HANDOUT - ACCESS ALL) 1. SLV/SV CONVOY ARRIVING/ BODY GUARDS GETTING OUT OF VEHICLE (3 SHOTS) 0.13 2. SV SISTANI WALKING INTO BUILDING AND THROUGH CORRIDOR 0.22 (U6) NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 25, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 3. VARIOUS OF IMAM ALI MOSQUE/ AUDIO OF GUNFIRE AND EXPLOSIONS 0.37 4. LV OF U.S. TANKS SEEN AROUND MOSQUE/ AUDIO OF GUNFIRE AND EXPLOSIONS 0.45 5. SV MEHDI ARMY FIGHTERS FIRING RPGs 0.55 6. SLV/SV (INTERIOR BUILDING) OF MEHDI ARMY FIGHTER FIRING THROUGH WINDOW (2 SHOTS) 1.03 7. PAN MEHDI ARMY FIGHTERS LINED UP, BEGIN DANCING 1.29 8. LV DESTRUCTION AROUND MOSQUE/ U.S. TANK IN BACKGROUND 1.35 9. LV/SLV OF SMOKE AND FLAMES BURNING IN FRONT OF SHRINE (SHRINE SEEN JUST BEHIND) (2 SHOTS) 2.00 10. SLV MAN TRYING TO PUT OUT FLAMES WITH BROKEN EXTINGUISHER/ DEBRIS ON GROUND PAN TO SHRINE WALL (2 SHOTS) 2.33 (W6) NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 25, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 11. GV /LV OF PLUME OF SMOKE FROM OLD CITY (3 SHOTS) 2.55 12. LV OF MEN WALKING / SMOKE AND FLAMES IN BACKGROUND (2 SHOTS) 3.04 (W6) KUFA, IRAQ (AUGUST 25, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 13. SV OF PEOPLE HEADING FOR NAJAF (2 SHOTS) 3.14 14. LV/SV OF PEOPLE CHANTING AND DANCING IN STREET (3 SHOTS) 3.35 (U7) NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 25,2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) +++NIGHT SHOTS+++ 15. VARIOUS OF EXPLOSIONS AND GUNFIRE OVER CITY (6 SHOTS) 4.38 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Reuters ID: LVA366C13PNVZ0K5MN16UADRJHHH
- Location: SAFWAN, NAJAF, AND KUFA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Duration: 00:04:38
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Fierce fighting continues around the Imam Ali mosque
in Najaf. Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric returns to
Latest reports from Najaf say that U.S. planes
unleashed a fierce attack on rebel targets in the city
early on Thursday (August 26).
The air strikes shook Najaf just after U.S. artillery
fire and cannon assaults from an AC-130 gunship rattled the
city of 500,000.
Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric made a sudden return to Iraq
on Wednesday (August 25) and said he had a plan to end the
uprising in Najaf.
Aides to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the
cleric, the most powerful voice of moderation in the
tormented country, would unveil an initiative to get
Shi'ite rebels out of the revered Imam Ali mosque. They
gave no details.
Sistani also called for Iraqis to march on Najaf to
save it, a move that could escalate passions among majority
Dressed in a black robe and turban, with a flowing
white beard and dark rings under his eyes, the reclusive
cleric arrived in the southern city of Basra from Kuwait,
having undergone heart treatment in London. He plans to
head to Najaf, his adopted home, on Thursday.
His return came as U.S. and Iraqi forces tightened
their grip around Mehdi Army militants loyal to radical
Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr holed up in the mosque,
advancing to within 300 metres (yards) of the rebel-held
shrine on Wednesday.
A U.S. AC-130 gunship strafed positions near the shrine on
"We ask all believers to volunteer to go with us to
Najaf," a statement from Sistani said. "I have come for the
sake of Najaf and I will stay in Najaf until the crisis
Sistani's aides said he would leave for Najaf at 7 a.m.
(0300 GMT) on Thursday with his supporters. They urged U.S.
forces encircling the gold-domed mosque to withdraw.
73-year-old Sistani reached Basra in a convoy of more
than a dozen vehicles led by police cars with sirens
His hospitalisation in London 3 weeks ago coincided
with the start of the revolt by Sadr, a young cleric who
has challenged the leadership of the Najaf clergy headed by
The call to march could be an attempt by the reclusive
Iranian-born cleric to reclaim some of the political ground
captured during the uprising by Sadr, who has painted
himself as the face of anti-U.S. resistance and icon to the
Sadr has also called for his own followers to march on
Najaf, sparking fears that the influx of thousands of rival
Shi'ites into the tense city could ignite renewed violence.
On Wednesday, in the heart of Najaf's old city, U.S.
tanks fired shells and troops advanced closer to the mosque
as U.S. helicopters strafed militia targets. Gunfire rocked
the area and smoke rose.
Asked if the U.S. military would suspend operations
following Sistani's return, U.S. Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic
said the Iraqi government would decide the course of
Iraqi Defence Minister Hazim al-Shalaan had warned the
Mehdi fighters they would be wiped out unless they left the
mosque by Tuesday (August 24) evening. U.S. and Iraqi
officials have said only Iraqi forces would storm the
Some 500 Iraqi troops have been deployed around the
Police also arrested senior Sadr aide Ali Smeisim in
Najaf, and said they had captured a number of Sadr
supporters who had stolen sacred items from the mosque.
Sadr's aides denied the accusation, saying it was part of a
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