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Radical Shi'ite Cleric Urges Followers to Battle US, Not Iraqi Forces


Radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says his recent call for "open war" is only against U.S. forces, not the Iraqi government.

In a statement Friday, Sadr urged his Mahdi Army militia to stop the bloodshed against fellow Iraqis.

Militias loyal to Sadr have been battling coalition and Iraqi forces in Baghdad's Sadr City district since late March. More than 300 people have been killed in those clashes.

Meanwhile, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict concluded a five-day visit to Iraq Friday. She told reporters the trip convinced her that Iraq's children are silent victims of the ongoing violence.

Radhika Coomaraswamy also noted that Iraqi children are being recruited as suicide bombers by various militias and insurgent groups in Iraq.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. military said it detained more than 12 suspected terrorists, during operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq forces.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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