Iraq: Al-Sadr makes first public appearance in months
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appeared in public for the first time in months on Friday, delivering a fiery anti-American sermon to thousands of supporters and demanding American forces leave Iraq.
According to US sources, al-Sadr had gone into hiding in Iran four months ago at the start of the U.S.-led Baghdad security crackdown. Al-Sadr traveled in a long motorcade from Najaf to the adjacent holy city of Kufa on Friday morning to deliver his sermon before 6,000 worshippers. "No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel," he chanted, according to the AP.
He repeated his call for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. "We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal," he said. "I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day."
He also condemned fighting between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces, saying it "served the interests of the occupiers." Instead, he said the militia should turn to peaceful protests, such as demonstrations and sit-ins, he said.
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