Sadr calls followers to stop clashes with Iraqi forces
Followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will not hand over their weapons as part of a move to end a week of fighting in Iraq, a top Sadr aide said. The aide, Hazem al-Araji, also said that Sadr's followers had received a guarantee from the government that it would end "random arrests" of Sadr followers.
"The weapons of the resistance will not be delivered to the Iraqi government," he told journalists at Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf after distributing a statement from the Shiite cleric calling on followers to stop fighting. According to Reuters, Sadr's statement also called for the government to halt arrests of his followers and implement an amnesty law to free prisoners.
"We confirm that there were guarantees taken from the Iraqi government to fulfill all the points in this statement. Thus, no more random arrests," he said.
On its part, Iraq's government welcomed Sadr's call to stop fighting security forces. "This is a positive statement," Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told Iraqiya state television. "As the government of Iraq we welcome this statement. We believe this will support the government of Iraq's efforts to impose security."