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Coalition Suspends Operations in Najaf

Coalition Suspends Operations in Najaf

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NAJAF, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S.-led coalition agreed Thursday to suspend offensive operations in Najaf after local leaders struck a deal with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to end a bloody standoff threatening some of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines.

Coalition forces would remain in Najaf until Iraqi security forces can reenter the city and assume control of strategic buildings from al-Sadr's militia, coalition spokesman Dan Senor told reporters in Baghdad.

"Until that time, coalition forces will suspend offensive operations but will continue to provide security by carrying out presence patrols," Senor said.

Iraqi leaders had urged the Americans to accept the agreement, although it does not require al-Sadr immediately to disband his militia and surrender to authorities to face charges in the April 2003 assassination of a moderate cleric.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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