Al-Sadr rejects government demands as at least seven policemen killed in Najaf
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Thursday rejected the government's demands, according to one of his aides. Haidar al-Tourfi, an official at al-Sadr office's office in Najaf, said he received a text message from al-Sadr rejecting the demands.
"Either martyrdom or victory," the message said, according to al-Tourfi.
Earlier, an Iraqi Cabinet minister said that forces could start an offensive against al-Sadr within hours, despite the latter's acceptance of a cease-fire proposal.
Minister of State Qassim Dawoud issued a series of demands al-Sadr must meet to prevent an imminent attack on his forces, who are holed up in the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf.
Al-Sadr must immediately disarm his Mahdi Army and hand over its weapons to the authorities, he said, according to The AP. The cleric must also give the government a signed document that he will not practice "acts of violence" in the future and will free all civilians and Iraqi security forces that his supporters have kidnapped.
In addition, al-Sadr must hold a news conference to announce that he is disbanding his Mahdi Army.
Meanwhile, a mortar barrage slammed into a police station in Najaf on Thursday, killing at least seven policemen and injuring 31 others, a hospital official said. (albawaba.com)
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