Showdown With The Rebel

The U.S. and the Iraqi government struggle to contain the truculent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

For eight days, the warnings of a decisive military showdown echoed across Najaf as fighting raged between U.S. forces and Shi'ite militiamen for control of the holy city. The Shi'ites' truculent leader, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, vowed not to leave his bunker in the sect's sacred Imam Ali shrine "until the last drop of my blood has been spilled." The U.S. Marine colonel commanding American and Iraqi-government troops battling the stubborn gunmen of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army proclaimed his men were ready "to finish this fight that the Muqtada militia started." Iyad Allawi, the Prime Minister of Iraq's U.S.-backed interim government, declared there...

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