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WAR: U.S. Forces Engage Insurgents In and Around Shiite Holy Sites

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posted on May, 14 2004 @ 08:28 AM
U.S. forces are pursuing Moqtada al-Sadr's forces inside the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala. After guerillas began firing mortars at U.S. positions from a vast cemetery in Najaf, the U.S. sent tanks into the cemetery to root out the insurgents, and put a stop to the attacks. al-Sadar himself is taking refuge in the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, and is turning the Shiite's shrine into a base of operations. U.S. forces are less than a half-mile from the holy shrines and say that they will not encroach them, but have dropped leaflets in the area urging al-Sadar's milita to surrender.

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces intensified their war against Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday, sending tanks into Najaf's vast cemetery to blast guerrilla positions among its ancient tombs for the first time.

At least three U.S. tanks moved deep into the Najaf cemetery, a city within a city covering several square miles where Shiites from all over the world wish to be buried within sight of the city's sacred shrines.

U.S. troops as close as half a mile from Kerbala's most sacred buildings made loudspeaker announcements calling on people to stay out of the area. Helicopters dropped leaflets urging Sadr's men to give in.

US helicopter gunship over Najaf
The U.S. has been involved with negotiations with influential Shiite leaders, some have even called for al-Sadar to give up his fighting and protect the sanctity of the Shiite religion. An undisclosed agreement has been reached and U.S. forces have now entered the Shiite's two holy cities and are fighting up next to some of their most sacred sites. U.S. forces are being cautious so that they do not enrage the rest of the Shiite population, including those who are opposed to al-Sadar's tactics.

Tuesday, U.S. forces breeched the Mukhaiyam Mosque which is next to the Shrine of Hussein. This shrine houses the tomb of Imam al-Hussein who was killed in 684 AD, and is the second most sacred site to the Shiite Muslims. Shells from M-1 Abrams tanks leveled several buildings surrounding the mosque. Col. Peter Mansoor, the commander of the First Brigade of the First Armored Division said that he believed the attack on the mosque had "broken the back of the insurgents", but that there would still be some who wished to continue the fighting.

[Edited on 14-5-2004 by dbates]

posted on May, 14 2004 @ 08:35 AM
The arabic media is currently showing coverage on the damage done to the dome of those mosques. There are claiming the damage was done by U.S. weapons. We really need to be careful, this will be most like blown out of proportion in the arabic media. They are also claiming much lower casualities in the resistance than the impression of otherwise portrayed by Western media.

Sacred Shiite Shrine Suffers Minor Damage in Friday's Fighting
"I picked this up from the shrine. Only Americans have such bullets," he said outside al-Sadr's office near the shrine.

"They are Jews, they are Jews," screamed al-Mahdi Army militiamen standing nearby, alluding to the Americans.

Reports of the damage to the shrine, which includes the tomb of the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, were widely reported across the Middle East by Arabic language television stations.

Shawqi Mushtaq al-Khafajji, an al-Sadr aide, told Al Arabiya television that the dome was struck by U.S. gun fire and "confrontations still ongoing. We have three martyrs (dead) and five injured."

posted on May, 14 2004 @ 08:51 AM
Damage to the shrine can only be blamed on al-Sadar, who has set up his military headquarters less than 100 yards from the main shrine. He does this on purpose to take advantage of the goodwill of the U.S. since he knows we will avoid attacking the shrine. But, according to the Geneva Convention, any building you use as a military base loses it's protection as a sacred site. In reality the U.S. could legaly carpet bomb the area.

Still I suppose that we sould do what we can to avoid making others upset at us.

posted on May, 14 2004 @ 09:01 AM
the blame should definitely be on Al-Sadr and his militia, but it isn't being reported that way...and Al-Sadr is supposedly not in Najaf but in Fallujah...

the problem is that the site and city of Najaf is the 3rd holiest site for all muslims around the world.

we can only hope it ends quick with damage that can be easily fixed.

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