Iraq: August 21, 2004

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Muqtada al Sadr's gunmen still control the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, although negotiations continue over details. Sadr's men are thought to have removed their weapons from the shrine (which was a big sore point with Iraqi Shias). And there is a promise to hand over, "the keys to the shrine," but only to the right set of senior Shia clerics. Sadr's men are still in buildings around the shrine, heavily armed and still shooting. It was relatively quiet overnight, but explosions were heard once the sun came up. In the last 24 hours, about a hundred Iraqis were killed in and around Najaf. As is so typical, Sadr cannot make up his mind and changes his demands, or his concessions, regularly. Sadr's followers also tend to report conflicting news about what their boss told them. 

Sadr supporters in Basra have attacked oil facilities and kidnapped opponents, or family members. In Baghdad, where most Sadr supporters come from, police and soldiers, backed by American troops, have fought battles in some neighborhoods. The  Sadr gunmen always lose. 

Based on reconnaissance, and informants inside the city, smart bombs continue to fall on targets inside the Sunni Arab stronghold of Fallujah.

 

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