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U.S. Troops Battle Shi'a Militia In Iraqi Holy Cities

14 May -- U.S. troops are fighting with militiamen loyal to Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi holy cities of Al-Najaf and Karbala.

Correspondents report that U.S. tanks moved into a cemetery inside Al-Najaf and fired at suspected positions of militia fighters near shrines, while insurgents returned fire.

Reuters quotes a hospital director in Karbala as saying at least four Iraqis were killed in overnight fighting there. U.S. helicopters scattered leaflets urging al-Sadr to end the insurgency by his Al-Mahdi Army and turn himself in to authorities, who accuse him of involvement in the murder of a fellow cleric.

Fighting also broke out on a road leading from Al-Najaf to the nearby city of Al-Kufah, where al-Sadr is expected to deliver a sermon at Friday prayers today.

In another development, the U.S. military said today that a U.S. Marine was killed during fighting in the Al-Anbar Province west of Baghdad, but gave no more details.

Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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