BAGHDAD – The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to
stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters
to concentrate their attacks on American troops rather than Iraqis,
according to a statement issued Sunday.
The statement, stamped with al-Sadr’s official seal, was distributed
in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday — a day before a large
demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth
anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
“You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don’t walk alongside the
occupiers, because they are your archenemy,” the statement said. Its
authenticity could not be verified.
In the statement, al-Sadr — who commands an enormous following among Iraq’s majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated
government — also encouraged his followers to attack only American
forces, not fellow Iraqis.