Al-Sadr Agrees to Withdraw:

“NAJAF, Iraq – Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accepted a peace plan Wednesday to end the fighting in Najaf that would disarm his militia and remove them from a holy shrine where they are based, according to a letter read by a delegate at the Iraqi National Conference.” – AP

If this breaking story can be confirmed it will be great news for the Bush administration!

…Shaalan referred to those who occupied the shrine as a “gang dressed in the clothes of religion….

The defense minister had said Iraqi forces were trained to raid one of Shiite Islam’s holiest sites, and reiterated that U.S. forces would not enter the shrine, which almost certainly would cause an uproar among the country’s majority Shiites.

“The only American intervention would be aerial protection and also securing some of the roads that lead to the compound,” Shaalan said on Al-Arabiya.

While never referring to al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia by name, Shaalan referred to those who occupied the shrine as a “gang dressed in the clothes of religion.”

It will remain to be seen how the Iraqi military will plan to disarm Sadr’s militia without further hostility. — zzb