- Title: IRAQ: U.S. TROOPS REMAIN IN NAJAF OLD CITY, SPORADIC CLASHES CONTINUE
- Date: 22nd August 2004
- Summary: (W6) NAJAF, IRAQ (AUGUST 22, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. GV OF SUNSET OVER NAJAF (2 SHOTS) 0.10 2. LV EMPTY STREETS/ AUDIO OF GUNFIRE 0.22 3. LV U.S. TANK IN STREET 0.35 4. LV MORE OF EMPTY STREETS 0.43 5. LV U.S. SOLDIERS WALKING TOWARDS HUMVEES 0.50 6. SV U.S. HUMVEES DRIVING 1.02 7. SV U.S. SOLDIER AT HUMVEE 1.10 8. SV OTHER U.S. SOLDIER (WITH CIGARETTE) HOLDING UP BAZOOKA 1.24 9. SLV U.S. HUMVEE 1.30 10. LV CHILDREN ON EMPTY STREET 1.39 11. SLV U.S. HUMVEE DRIVING THROUGH STREET 1.48 12. LV U.S. TANK DRIVING THROUGH STREET 2.02 13. SV U.S. SOLDIER 2.08 14. VARIOUS OF U.S. SOLDIERS MOVING OUT FROM BUILDINGS, WITHDRAWING FROM POSITIONS / SUNSET (3 SHOTS) 3.00 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 6th September 2004 13:00
- Location: NAJAF, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA15U4DGEB0DSP9W3X21X7IZJ60
- Story Text: U.S. troops remain in Najaf old city, sporadic
With talks aimed at ending the siege of the Imam Ali
mosque stalled, U.S. forces on Sunday (August 22) appeared
to have tightened their noose around Najaf's old city, a
stronghold of rebels loyal to radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric
U.S. soldiers withdrew from several positions in
Najaf's old city on Sunday (August 22) but continued to
patrol the streets.
Earlier U.S. helicopter gunships pounded Shi'ite
militias as tanks rumbled to within 800 metres of a holy
shrine at the centre of a near three-week insurgency.
Rounds of heavy-calibre fire from Bradley armoured
vehicles rattled across the labyrinth of narrow streets
that lead to the gold-dome mosque in Najaf, where Mehdi
militias remain holed up in defiance of a government demand
they disband and leave.
A Reuters witness said U.S. tanks advanced to their
closest positions to the shrine since the siege began and
drew mortar fire from Mehdi militias.
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.
Allawi had threatened to storm the mosque, but any
bloody takeover could infuriate Iraq's majority Shi'ite
population and further destabilise the country ahead of
scheduled elections in January. The mosque is the holiest
Shi'ite shrine in Iraq.
Almost three weeks of fighting has turned Najaf, home
to 500,000 people, into a war-shattered ghost city.
Residents brave mortars and gunfire every day.
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