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US Troops, Sadr Militiamen Clash in Baghdad - 2004-06-04


Clashes erupted Friday in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, as U.S. troops battled militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The U.S. military says four American soldiers were wounded after gunmen attacked a U.S. army patrol near the mainly Shi'ite district in Baghdad known as Sadr City.

Fighting also broke out after insurgents fired mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades at a police station in Sadr City. At least three Iraqis were killed.

The clash occurred, as Shi'ite negotiators continued efforts to end the fighting in southern Iraq.

Shi'ite officials said Thursday that Moqtada al-Sadr will withdraw his militiamen from Najaf in the coming days, as long as U.S. troops stop raids in the city. The cleric made a similar offer a week ago, but daily fighting has continued in Najaf and the nearby town of Kufa.

On the diplomatic front, Iraq's new foreign minister has asked the United Nations Security Council to give the interim government in Baghdad full sovereignty, along with a voice in deciding how long foreign troops remain in the country, and how they operate.

Hoshyar Zebari appeared before the Security Council late Thursday, and said the Iraqi government wants U.S.-led forces to remain in the country to maintain security after June 30. He urged Council members, who are discussing a resolution on Iraq drafted by the United States and Britain, to work out an arrangement that will not compromise Iraq's sovereignty, but also will allow foreign forces to defend themselves.

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