Al-Sadr Orders His Militia Off Streets of Basra

He offers weakened Maliki a truce deal as violence continues
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 30, 2008 5:15 PM CDT
Iraqi Shiite women hold a banner of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and anti-government placards during a protest in the Kazimiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March 27, 2008.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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(Newser) – Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his fighters to leave the streets of Basra and other cities, reports the BBC, in an effort to end clashes with security forces. “Anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions will not be one of us,” Sadr said, but minutes after his statement was released, militia shells hit Basra’s palace, and attacks on the Green Zone persisted throughout the day.

The cleric called on the government to release detainees, halt what he called illegal raids, and apply the general amnesty law. More than 240 people across the country have died since Tuesday in the fighting. The government called Sadr’s order “positive,” but it seemed to have little effect, the New York Times says.