Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr laid down a list of conditions for an end to more than a week of deadly clashes between his followers and US troops, a spokesman said.
Sheikh Ali Sumeisim spelled out the conditions -- notably for the withdrawal of the US-led forces and handover of Najaf to the Marjayia, the Shiite religious authority -- during a news conference at a hotel in the besieged Shiite holy city of Najaf in central Iraq.
Earlier Friday, there were conflicting reports about the condition of al-Sadr. Aides said Friday morning that their leader has been injured in fighting with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the holy city of Najaf.
However, Iraq's interim defense ministry said Sadr was not injured and that there was a lull in fighting in Najaf. "Moqtada was not hurt and there is a lull in fighting from last night," a spokesman for the defense ministry told AFP.
Earlier, aide Ahmed al-Shaibany told The AP al-Sadr suffered three wounds as a result of the US shelling.
"The injuries are in his chest, legs and arms. He was hurt in an attack while checking one of the fighting battalions," said Sadr's spokesman Sheikh Ali Sumeisim.
Another al-Sadr aide, Abdel Hadi al-Daraji, called on Iraqis to protest Friday near the Green Zone in Baghdad, the location of most Iraqi government ministries, as well as the U.S. and British embassies, against the fighting in Najaf.
On Thursday U.S. troops stormed al-Sadr's house in Najaf, only to find it empty. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)