Iraq waits on word from al-Sadr

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Iraq waits on word from al-Sadr

| Thursday, Feb 21 2008 12:47 PM

Last Updated: Thursday, Feb 21 2008 12:51 PM

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided whether to extend his Mahdi Army’s cease-fire, and sent the message in sealed envelopes to be opened at the beginning of Friday’s sermons, one of his officials said.

Photos:

IRAQ AL-SADR

Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry symbolic coffins to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a Shiite uprising against U.S. forces in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. Al-Sadr will have a statement read in mosques at Friday prayer services addressing whether his Mahdi Army will extend a six-month cease-fire that’s helped reduce violence throughout Iraq, a Shiite lawmaker said.

IRAQ AL-SADR

Followers of a radical anti U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry his portrait during a ceremony to mark a fourth anniversary of the Shiite uprising against the American occupation in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. al-Sadr will have a statement read in mosques at Friday prayer services addressing whether his Mahdi Army will extend a six-month cease-fire that’s helped reduce violence throughout Iraq, a Shiite lawmaker said.

IRAQ BRITISH TROOPS

Iraqi policeman stands by a road side bomb crater that struck a British patrol on Wednesday night in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. There were no reports on possible casualties.

IRAQ BRITISH TROOPS

Iraqi policeman stands by a road side bomb crater that struck a British patrol on Wednesday night in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. There were no reports on possible casualties.

Although the content of the message, delivered Thursday to 200 loyal clerics around Iraq, was not known, there were strong indications from officials in his organization that the anti-U.S. firebrand would extend the six-month cessation of what had been an undeclared war against the U.S. military since 2004.

The cease-fire has been one of three important factors that have helped reduce violence since mid-2007. The two others are the influx of thousands of U.S. troops last summer, and emergence of Sunni-dominated groups that are fighting against al-Qaida in Iraq.

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