- Title: IRAQ: NIGHTIME CLASHES IN NAJAF
- Date: 22nd August 2004
- Summary: (U7) NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 22, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. VARIOUS DISTANT NIGHT VIEWS EXPLOSIONS AND TRACER FIRE (6 SHOTS) 1.33 2. LV SECURITY FORCES PATROLLING 1.51 3. VARIOUS DISTANT NIGHT VIEWS EXPLOSIONS AND TRACER FIRE (3 SHOTS) 2.47 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 6th September 2004 13:00
- Location: NAJAF NIGHT CLASHES
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVAE6ADK5NK79KB7E35I8O7L1WEU
- Story Text: Nightime clashes in Najaf.
Four loud blasts were heard in Najaf late on Sunday
(August 22) as an AC-130 U.S. military plane circled
overhead, a Reuters witness said.
The military plane has been pounding positions held by
Shi'ite militants who are holed up in and around a sacred
shrine. The aerial assault came after U.S. tanks moved to
within 800 metres (yards) of the shrine as U.S. forces
appeared to be tightening their noose around the old city,
a stronghold of rebels loyal to radical Shi'ite Muslim
cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Earlier in the day rounds of heavy-calibre fire from
armoured vehicles rattled across the labyrinth of narrow
streets that lead to the gold-domed mosque in Najaf, where
Mehdi militias remain holed up in defiance of a government
demand they disband and leave.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the
latest fighting, which erupted after negotiators failed to
agree on the terms of a handover of the mosque by Sadr's
forces to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most respected
Sadr, a young firebrand who has become a major headache
for the U.S.-backed interim government, has insisted
Sistani send a delegation to take an inventory of precious
items in the mosque -- thought to include jewellery, relics
and carpets -- to head off any claim Sadr's men had stolen
Sistani, in London recovering from surgery, has said he
cannot form the committee in the current circumstances.
Speaking through his aides, the elusive Sadr, who has
called for an end to the U.S. military occupation, had
earlier said his militia would continue to guard the mosque
after any handover.
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