Rebel leader orders ceasefire against Spaniards
19 April 2004
BAGHDAD- Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his followers to cease their attacks on Spanish troops in response to Madrid’s decision to pull its forces out of Iraq, the official spokesman for the cleric said Monday.
The cleric’s press office in the holy city of Najaf told EFE that his official spokesman, Qais al-Khazaali, called on Iraqis to “contribute to the safety of the Spanish troops until they return to their country, as long as they agree to not launch any attacks against the people” of Iraq.
Al-Sadr announced a two-day ceasefire Sunday in Najaf, declared because thousands of pilgrims were in the Shiite holy city ahead of a holiday Monday.
Najaf has been surrounded by some 2,500 US troops for more than a week.
US authorities said they plan to arrest or kill Al-Sadr, who is wanted in connection with the killing last year of a prominent religious leader, and disarm his militia.
For the past year, Spain has had some 1,200 soldiers deployed in Iraq in the international Plus Ultra Brigade, which also includes troops from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
The international unit is based in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and is one component of a multinational division under Polish command.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news