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Friday, May 2, 2008

Sadr Subs Iraq Peace Overtures


01/05/2008 Iraqi cleric Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr on Thursday refused to hold talks with Iraqi lawmakers who had gone to Iran in a bid to end the clashes between his fighters and US occupation troops, an aide said. "Moqtada al-Sadr did not permit his leaders to meet the Iraqi delegation," said Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, the cleric's spokesman in the central holy city of Najaf.

"Sadr insists that the crisis can be solved only through a parliamentary initiative backed by President Jalal Talabani and speaker Mahmud Mashhadani." Obeidi did not elaborate, but Talabani has been holding talks with Sadrists to resolve the crisis. Obeidi earlier said a group of Iraqi Shiite MPs had traveled to Iran for talks with Sadr. He said the group was led deputy parliament speaker Sheikh Khalid al-Attiya.

Battles have erupted late March in Baghdad's Sadr City between army fighters and US occupation forces along with Iraqi forces. The firefights fuelled the overall bloodshed in April, with at least 1,073 people killed across the country at a time when the US military's toll also hit a seven-month high.

Overnight clashes in Sadr City between US forces and army fighters left another eight people killed, including two children, officials said. According to data collected by the interior, health and defense ministries, 966 civilians were killed in April, as were 69 police officers and 38 soldiers. April was also the deadliest month for the US military since last September.

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