Thursday, May 27, 2004

Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed Wednesday to withdraw his militia from Najaf and hand the city back to Iraqi police, the government said, raising hopes for an end to weeks of fighting that threatened some of Shia Islam's holiest sites.

The announcement by National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie took place after U.S. troops arrested al-Sadr's key lieutenant in a pre-dawn raid. Clashes late Tuesday and early Wednesday between U.S. troops and militia fighters killed 24 people and wounded nearly 50 here, hospital and militia officials said.

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