Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Cordon Around Sadr City Ends on Orders of Iraqi PM

Supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr celebrated in Badhdad's Sadr City district Tuesday, as a blockade was lifted on orders of Iraq's prime minister.

U.S. and Iraqi forces abandoned checkpoints in the Shi'ite neighborhood within hours of Nouri al-Maliki's decree. Al-Sadr had ordered businesses and schools closed Tuesday as part of a strike to oppose the blockade.

The blockade was part of a search operation for a missing American soldier, whom U.S. officials believe was kidnapped by Shi'ite militants.

The developments came as Iraqi officials said the country needs about $100 billion from donor countries to rebuild its infrastructure.

A government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said the money is needed over the next four or five years until Iraq reconstructs its oil sector. He called on the international community for help Tuesday at the opening of an aid meeting in Kuwait.

Also Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he is "comfortable" with a proposal to increase the size of Iraq's security forces. Rumsfeld would not say how big of an increase the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, General George Casey, has proposed.

Iraq's army, police and border control forces now number about 310,000.

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