Iraq: Attacks against American targets up as al-Sadr cease-fire in doubt

With deadly attacks against American targets increasing around Baghdad, firebrand anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raised the possibility Wednesday that he may not renew a six-month cease-fire widely credited for helping slash violence. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a US military spokesman, blamed a flurry of rocket attacks on Iranian-backed Shi'ites - including one on Monday against an Iraqi housing complex near the country's main US military base that killed at least five people and wounded 16, including two US soldiers. He said that attack and others were carried out by "Iranian-backed Special Group criminals," a term often used to describe groups that have either splintered away from Sadr's Mahdi Army or refused to respect the cease-fire he declared last August.