Sadr calls off protest, warns Iraqi government
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is demanding the Iraqi government protect the public from "the booby traps and American militias" or he may formally end the freeze he imposed seven months ago on his Mahdi Army fighters. The statement was being circulated to the press and public Tuesday as American and Iraqi troops stepped up their pressure on his militiamen in their Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.
Al Sadr also cancelled a massive anti-US demonstration he had called in Baghdad for Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. "I call upon the Iraqi people to postpone the march. I am afraid for them. I want to save Iraqi blood. I am afraid that an Iraqi may lay his hand on them," Sadr said.
According to AFP, the Shiite leader also accused the Iraqi government of acting under "American pressure." "The escalation of government measures against the Iraqi people proves that the government is still under the American pressure," he said.