Iraq's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met in Najaf Thursday, forging an agreement aimed at ending fighting that has engulfed the city for the past three weeks.
Fighting between U.S. Marines and loyalists to rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr escalated in Najaf Monday as the U.S. military stepped up pressure on the militiamen to hand over control of the Imam Ali Shrine to religious authorities.
Militants supporting radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr removed their weapons from the sacred Imam Ali Shrine in central Najaf Friday, bringing an end to a two-week standoff in the holy city.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric at the helm of a two-week uprising in Najaf against U.S. and Iraqi troops, accepted a plan Wednesday to end the fighting.
Eight members of the Iraqi National Conference arrived in Najaf Tuesday to try to convince rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia to end a 12-day insurgency in the south.
Iraq's interim President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer on Tuesday urged radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to lay down his arms and enter politics, a prospect President Bush said he would not oppose.
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