Iraq's Sadr calls for halt to attacks on US troops

Extremist Iraqi cleric warns that if US forces do not leave by year-end deadline, violence against military would resume at full force.

September 11, 2011 14:19
2 minute read.
US troops preparing to leave Iraq

US troops leaving Iraq_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


BAGHDAD - Fiercely anti-US Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday called on his followers to suspend attacks against US troops to ensure they leave Iraq by the deadline set for December 31, 2011, when US troops are expected to withdraw fully.

He warned that if US forces do not depart on time, military operations would resume and would be "very severe."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Iraq's Sadre urges protests against US over Libya
Some US lawmakers want to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq

"Because of my eagerness to accomplish the independence of Iraq and have the invader forces withdraw from our holy land, it has become imperative for me to stop military operations ... until the invader forces complete their withdrawal," Sadr said in a statement read out by his spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi.

"If not, the military operation will start again and with new approaches, and it will be very severe."

Iraq's political leaders are currently negotiating with the United States on the sensitive issue of whether to keep US military on as trainers beyond 2011, more than eight years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought US forces until 2008, stated last month that US military trainers who stay after 2011 would be targets.


While Sadr's Mehdi Army militia has for the most part been demobilized, US officials say splinter groups have continued to attack US soldiers.

"We shall soon see whether the Promised Day Brigade and others affiliated with al-Sadr's organization continue to conduct attacks against US forces and the Iraqi government, or if these are just words without the deeds to back them up," US military spokesman Colonel Barry Johnson said in an emailed response to Sadr's statement.

Iraqi security forces are seen to be capable of tackling internal threats, but say they still need training for their air and naval defenses, and some heavy conventional weaponry.

Although violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically from the height of sectarian fighting in 2006-7, bombings and killings occur daily and Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militia are still capable of carrying out lethal operations.

Attacks against Iraqi and US security forces have climbed in recent months. While there were no US military casualties in August, 14 US soldiers were killed in June, the deadliest month for US forces since 2008.

Iraqi security forces are seen to be capable of tackling internal threats, but say they still need training for their air and naval defenses, and some heavy conventional weaponry.

Ubaidi said if the Iraqi government wanted, Sadrists were ready to secure the roads for US troops as they depart Iraq.

Sadr's political movement is a key ally of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in his fragile coalition mix of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

He has in the past threatened to revive the Mehdi Army if US troops stay, but Sadrist sources have said the militia is riven with splinter groups and internal divisions.

US officials and Sunni Arab leaders accused the Mehdi Army of being behind many of the sectarian killings in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

November 22, 2018
Edelstein and Iran's Zarif attend same Middle East conference