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Iraqi troops deploy in Baghdad's Sadr City district ahead of Friday prayers - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraqi troops deployed in large numbers during Friday prayers in the Baghdad district of Sadr City, where Shiite militiamen used to control the streets. There were no reports of violence.

Iraqi soldiers took up positions on top of buildings around the office of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose followers hold prayers there and use the occasion to criticize the American-backed government. Two military helicopters hovered overhead as Iraqi army Humvees patrolled.

Thousands of worshippers gathered to hear a sermon by Sheik Mohanned al-Mousawi, an al-Sadr ally who complained about arrests of the cleric’s supporters by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. But al-Mousawi urged restraint in keeping with a truce that ended fighting in Sadr City in May after a crackdown by the Iraqi military.

“We call on all brothers to be up to the responsibility and be committed to our leader’s orders,” al-Mousawi said. Al-Sadr has lived in Iran for more than a year, deepening the uncertainty over the future of his militia, the Mahdi Army.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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