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Iraq's Mahdi Army militia to resume activities unless Sadr renews ceasefire
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09:25, February 21, 2008

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An aide to Iraqi radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday that Mahdi Army militia would resume its activities unless Sadr extend a six-month ceasefire.

"The ceasefire will end automatically by Saturday and Mahdi Army would resume its activities unless Sayid Muqtada al-Sadr issue a statement to renew the ceasefire," Shiek Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman for Sadr, told reporters in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, some 160 km south of Baghdad.

"The Mahdi Army is committed to the current six-month period of ceasefire, but if there is no statement from Sadr, the freeze of the Army's activities is over," he said.

If Sadr does not renew the ceasefire, it would be a substantial threat to the country's security improvement which the U.S. officials said that violence around Iraq has reduced by 60 percent in the past several months.

Last August, Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers, the powerful Mahdi Army militia, to freeze activities for six months. The move, along with the U.S. troops offensives with extra troops and the uprising of Sunnis against al-Qaida, has contributed the security improvement.

Source:Xinhua



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