Baghdad (AP) A reduction in violence largely due to a six-month cease-fire could be threatened if a radical Shiite cleric turns one of Iraq’s most powerful militias loose this weekend.
A spokesman and another official say Muqtada Al-Sadr has threatened to end the cease-fire and allow his Mahdi army to resume activity. They say if there's no further word from Al-Sadr by Saturday, it means the gloves are off.
The U.S. Military has welcomed the cease-fire but has insisted on continuing raids against what it calls Iranian-backed breakaway factions of the Mahdi army militia. Al-Sadr's followers claim the U.S.-Iraqi raids are a pretext to crack down on the wider movement,
which has pulled its support for the Washington-backed government.