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Militia agrees to let in Iraqi forces

BAGHDAD — Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons, in a surprising capitulation that is likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In return, Sadr's Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government's agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in possession of "medium and heavy weaponry."

The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the Shiite Muslim area that's home to more than 2-million residents and would mark the first time that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. On Friday, 15 people were killed and 112 were injured in fighting, officials at the neighborhood's two major hospitals said.

Also Friday, the U.S. military denied that the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, had been captured, saying a man with a similar name had been arrested in the northern city of Mosul.

"Neither coalition forces nor Iraqi security forces detained or killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri. This guy had a similar name," said Maj. Peggy Kageleiry, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

>>Fast facts

Developments

Better MRAPs: The U.S. military is reinforcing the sides of its mine-resistant vehicles, or MRAPs, with additional armor to shore up what could be weak points as troops see a spike in roadside bombings across Iraq.

Cremation changes: The Pentagon is recommending changes in the handling of troops' remains after it was revealed that crematoriums contracted by the military are used for both human and animal cremations. A military official said there have been no instances or charges that human and pet remains were mixed, but officials are now recommending that troops' remains be incinerated at a facility that is dedicated entirely to humans.

Militia agrees to let in Iraqi forces 05/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:40pm]
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