Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related illness Feb. 21." The 4,000 mark is now 30 away with the ICCC total standing at 3970 since the start of the illegal war. 26 is the number for the month thus far.
Meanwhile Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) reports that the cease-fire/truce has been renewed:
Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army to renew for six months a cease-fire that has enabled coalition forces to concentrate on pushing al-Qaeda out of Iraq.
The militia's half-year cease-fire, due to expire at the end of this month, will be extended, state television cited al-Sadr aide Sheik Hazim al-Araji as saying today. The cessation of activities will last for around another six months, ending on the the 15th day of the eighth month of the Islamic calendar, Shaban, which falls in mid-August, al-Araji said.
Mahdi Army leader al-Sadr was under pressure to end the cease-fire from followers who alleged the U.S. was exploiting the relative calm to arrest militia members. The suspension of attacks was declared Aug. 29 after the group was accused of involvement in clashes at a shrine that left 52 people dead.
Pay attention to the second paragraph. From Alexandra Zavis and Tina Susman's Los Angeles Times report on the same announcement:
But in recent days, Sadr's followers, including loyalists in the national Parliament, have complained that their foes have used the cease-fire to try to crush his movement politically and militarily. Until the last minute, they had held out the possibility that Sadr might order his militia back into action.
The U.S. military said the renewal of the cease-fire would contribute to further security improvements and would allow U.S. and Iraqi forces to concentrate on pursuing the Sunni militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq.It promised in a statement to treat those who honor Sadr's pledge with "respect and restraint," but said it would pursue elements who continue to wage attacks.
So can a hotel clerk (al-Sadr) seen as increasingly out of it (as he focuses on his studies) hold a second truce/cease-fire when his followers up in an uproar about their perceived treatment in Baghdad? That would be the city that al-Sadr left. That's what's going to be interesting to watch. al-Sadr is no longer in Baghdad. Many of his followers remain in Sadr City (a section of Baghdad) and they voice their displeasure more and more vocally. Are they going to go along with an extended truce called by someone not even in the area?
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