Iraqi government calls for other militias to freeze operations

The Iraqi government called on armed groups to follow the lead of the biggest Shiite militia and freeze their operations, even as the US military Friday reported the deaths of two more American service members in fighting against Sunni insurgents. A statement by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office welcomed Wednesday's decision by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to freeze attacks by his Mahdi militia for up to six months as a step toward "affirming security and stability." The statement, issued late Thursday, said al-Sadr's move offered "a good chance" to "suspend the work of other militias" to restore "the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq." Al-Sadr issued the order after his fighters were suspected of a role in this week's gunfights during a religious festival in Karbala that killed up to 51 people.