The murder of a Moqtada al-Sadr aide triggered heavy fighting in Baghdad today after al-Sadr’s men attacked US and Iraqi forces, Reuters reports. The cleric blamed “the hand of the occupier” for the death of Riyadh al-Nuri, a close relative, and vowed not to forget “this precious blood.” A US commander told CNN that battles broke out when a US patrol, backing Iraqi forces, ran into 10 roadside bombs and sustained heavy fire.
Troops returned fire as an unmanned US aircraft swept in and killed three men planting more bombs, he said. Now US jets and helicopters are rocking Baghdad's Sadr slum with missile attacks. Meanwhile, US and Iraqi officials have reached out to al-Sadr. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the shooting today, but met with Sadr-bloc MPs. "They discussed the importance of quieting the situation," his office said.