(AFP) – May 11, 2008
BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military said on Sunday it supported a ceasefire in Baghdad's Sadr City where the militia of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr cut a deal with the Iraqi authorities to end the bloodshed.
"We support political solutions in Sadr City as well as all of Iraq. We would welcome an end to violence by the criminal elements who continue to endanger the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens," US military spokesman Colonel Jerry O'Hara told AFP.
The Iraqi government and Sadr's movement said on Saturday they had agreed on a deal to end weeks of fighting which has killed hundreds of people in Baghdad.
In clashes on Saturday afternoon, American troops killed four militiamen, the US military said in a separate statement, adding that a tank was used to return fire after soldiers came under attack in Sadr City.
"If we see illegal activity, rocket or mortar teams, those carrying rocket-propelled grenades or improvised-explosive device emplacers, we will engage them with precision fire," the statement said.
Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman for Sadr's office in the central shrine city of Najaf, said the deal to end the firefights in the movement's east Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City would be effective from Sunday.
Since March 25, US and Iraqi forces have been battling militants, mostly from Sadr's Mahdi Army, in the sprawling Shiite district.
The fighting erupted after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on Shiite militiamen in the southern port city of Basra on March 25.
That military assault triggered widespread clashes in other Shiite areas of Iraq, particularly in Sadr City.
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