Al-Sadr group announces deal to end Baghdad fighting

The movement of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday it had struck a deal with the Iraqi government to end fighting in its Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.

Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, the spokesperson for the cleric’s office in the central shrine city of Najaf, said the deal will be effective from Sunday.

“We will stop the fire, stop displaying arms in public and open all the roads leading to Sadr City,” Obeidi said.

“This agreement will be executed from tomorrow [Sunday]. The Sadr movement has agreed to the contents of the deal and it has now become an official document.”

Obeidi said the agreement was reached after talks between the Sadr group and a delegation representing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

“The two groups agreed on 10 of the 14 points discussed. The agreed points do not include disbanding of Jaish al-Mehdi,” he said referring to the cleric’s feared Mehdi Army militia.

United States and Iraqi forces have been fighting intense street battles with Shi’ite militants, mostly from the Mehdi Army, since late March.
Hundreds of people have been killed.

The firefights erupted after Maliki ordered a crackdown on Shi’ite militiamen and also vowed to disband the Mehdi Army.

“The agreement stipulates that the government’s security forces have the right to make raids and searches for those who are wanted but by following the principles of human rights,” Obeidi said.

The Sadr movement has repeatedly accused the security forces of randomly arresting its leaders.

Obeidi said the delegation has given an assurance that Maliki will honour the agreement.—AFP

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