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Rival Shi'ite Leaders Agree to End Violence Against Iraqis


The heads of two rival Iraqi Shi'ite groups have agreed to renounce violence against each other and all Iraqis for the good of the country.

A statement from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council Saturday said the group's leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, and radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have agreed to cooperate through a joint committee and to unite their supporters throughout Iraq.

The two factions have a history of violence. In August, clashes between the groups left 51 people dead and more than 200 others wounded in the holy city of Karbala.

In other news, the U.S. military says coalition forces killed four militants south of Baghdad Saturday in an operation targeting an associate of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Two others were killed in another operation near Samarra. The military says nine suspects were captured in the raids, while nine more were detained in separate actions in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk.

The U.S. military also released a statement denying media reports that the 25 people killed in an operation Friday near Baquba were innocent civilians. The military says it has confirmed the dead were members of an extremist group accused of smuggling weapons from Iran.

U.S. military authorities also have reported some success in bringing security to an al-Qaida stronghold southwest of Baghdad the military calls the "Triangle of Death."

Colonel Michael Kershaw told reporters Friday that coalition forces have been able to reduce insurgent violence in the area with the help of Iraqi volunteers known as the "Concerned Local Citizen Movement", including local Sunnis and former members of the military.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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