- Title: IRAQ: FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN NAJAF BETWEEN SADR MILITIA AND U.S. FORCES.
- Date: 13th May 2004
- Summary: NAJAF, IRAQ (MAY 12, 2004) (REUTERS) 1. LV/ZOOM IN: NIGHTTIME SKYLINE OF NAJAF, GUNFIRE AUDIBLE, TRACER FIRE SEEN 0.25 2. GV: LARGE, DOUBLE-LIT EXPLOSION ON SKYLINE 0.36 3. LV/PAN: FLARE OVER NIGHT SKY; AUTOMATIC GUNFIRE AUDIBLE 0.59 4. LV: EXPLOSIONS SEEN IN DISTANCE; SEVERAL LARGE EXPLOSIONS AUDIBLE 1.25 5. LV/GV: TRACER FIRE AND BURNING BUILDING (2 SHOTS) 1.42 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Reuters ID: LVA1E0U91TWMSB8LDHC5TXYJUDXH
- Location: NAJAF, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Duration: 00:01:43
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Fighting breaks out in Najaf between Sadr militia
and U.S. forces.
Gunfire and heavy explosions sounded after dark on
Wednesday (May 12), shortly before midnight local time
(1930gmt) around the governor's residence in the Iraqi city
of Najaf in what appeared a repeat of frequent mortar and
tank exchanges between militias loyal to Shi'ite cleric
Moqtada Sadr and U.S. forces dug at their closest point to
his refuge in the sanctuary of Najaf's ancient shrines.
US helicopters hovered above the city and blasts sent
flames soaring into the sky.
U.S. commanders say they will not approach holy ground
but are growing impatient with Sadr's intransigence.
The fighting between the militias and US forces broke
out just hours after Sadr said he was willing to disband
his militia yet vowed to fight the US-led occupation which
he likened to the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein.
But his aides were in negotiations.
It remained difficult to separate face-saving bravado
from hard bargaining during the firebrand's first personal
But, under pressure from Shi'ite elders and from U.S.
forces on the ground, his aides said on Tuesday they had
done a deal with Shi'ite political parties which could end
fighting -- possibly by setting up an Iraqi force to
replace withdrawn U.S. troops in the holy cities.
"The dissolution of the Mehdi Army depends on the
religious authorities. If they issue an edict to disband
the Mehdi Army then we will disband it," Sadr said at
Najaf's Imam Ali shrine, where he and many of his fighters
have sought sanctuary in the face of a U.S. military
Coalition authority spokesman Dan Senor responded
cautiously, saying it still demanded that Sadr disband his
militia and face charges over the murder of a fellow
cleric. U.S. officials have yet to be involved directly in
Sadr has made similar offers before. But circumstances
have moved sharply against him, with people in Najaf
exasperated at the economic consequences of the standoff
with U.S. troops and Shi'ite elders growing angrier at the
young man's ambitions.
The deal sketched out among the Shi'ite groups could
follow a model adopted by U.S. commanders in the rebellious
Sunni city of Falluja two weeks ago, which allowed Iraqi
fighters to join a local security force while U.S. troops
The U.S. commander for the region south of Baghdad said
he could imagine an arrangement taking in former Sadr
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- Embargoed:28th May 2004 13:00