Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sadr to form new resistance group

Press TV reports:

Iraq's influential leader Moqtada al-Sadr has announced plans to set up a new resistance group to fight US occupation in the country.

"The resistance will be carried out exclusively by a special group which I will announce later," Sadr said in a statement read out at a mosque in the holy town of Kufa.

The cleric vowed to uphold resistance against the occupiers until the liberation of Iraq

Sadr said the group will direct its operations against occupying US forces and will be banned from fighting any Iraqis.

The 60,000-strong Mahdi Army led by Moqtada al-Sadr had regularly clashed with US forces since their invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The group, however, declared a ceasefire last year in August, and maintains that so far its fighters have lived up to it.

The announcement follows Sadr's call for continued protests against negotiations with Washington over the US presence in the country until a referendum is held on the issue.

Iraqis remain wary of an agreement in principle between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and US president George Bush that would give a legal basis to US troops in Iraq -currently numbering to about 150,000- after the December 31 expiry of a UN mandate defining their current status.