Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sadr threatens open war against U.S., Iraq

Go to McClatchy Newspapers original
BAGHDAD — Renegade cleric Muqtada al Sadr on Saturday issued a "final warning" to the Iraqi government, threatening an open-ended "war until liberation" if U.S. and Iraqi troops don't stop their offensive against followers of his militant Shiite Muslim movement.

Sadr's threat signals his growing fury with the joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive against his strongholds in Baghdad's Sadr City and in the volatile southern port city of Basra. Such a rebellion would end Sadr's eight-month-old ceasefire, which was widely credited - even by U.S. military officials - with curbing violence in Baghdad and throughout the Shiite south.

The U.S.-backed Iraqi military continued its two-front attack Saturday against the Mahdi Army and other outlaws, retaking government buildings from militiamen in Basra while waging fierce gun battles in the densely packed slums of Sadr City.

"I'm giving the final warning to the Iraqi government," al Sadr said in the statement, which was released by his Najaf office. "To desist and take the path of peace and denounce violence with its people...(or) we will announce an open war until liberation."


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