Friday, September 07, 2007


Sadrist denies MNF reports of split in Mahdi Army

(Voices of Iraq) - The head of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc on Thursday slammed the statement made by the Multi-National Forces' spokesman Brigadier General Kevin Bergner on some of the armed activities of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, despite Sadr's order to freeze their armed activities. "All of the Sadr movement, along with its military wing, are adhering to the order of Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr to freeze the activities of Mahdi Army fighters," Nassar al-Rubaie told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Head of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc added, "despite the continued raids and detaining of Sadr movement followers and Mahdi Army elements, there was no violation of (Sadr's) decision." Last Wednesday, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr surprisingly decided to freeze the armed activities of his followers after the clashes that erupted in the sacred Shiite city of Karbala while Shiite Muslim pilgrims were observing a religious occasion.
The spokesman for the Multi-National Forces in Iraq Brigadier General Kevin Bergner said yesterday that some cells from the Mahdi Army had not obeyed Sadr's order to freeze their activities, accusing them of "practicing armed activities." Meanwhile, an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr said in statements to VOI, "all wings of the Mahdi Army are committed to the decision (to freeze mobilization), despite continued arrests against the movement's followers, the last of which was the arrest of many Mahdi Army elements in Hilla city, 100 km southwest of Baghdad."
A Sadrist leader, who preferred his name not be mentioned, added "all Mahdi fighters are part of a single army under one leadership. The occupation forces should unveil the names of those arrested allegedly forming "special units" with links to Iran and practicing armed activities despite the decision to freeze," said the Sadrist leader wondering, "why they do not reveal their names to the media as a proof."
Brigadier General Bergner revealed on Wednesday the arrest of elements from "special units" that "have links to Iran and al-Quds Corps of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards."
"During the last few days, terrorist groups named "special units" were arrested. This network has links to Iran, which has provided the units with arms and explosives," the spokesman for the Multi-National Forces told a news conference.
The Multi-National Forces spokesman also said, "the arrested persons admitted their links to Iran and our intelligence indicated that they have connections to the Revolutionary Guards, Iranian al-Quds Corps and Lebanese Hezbollah." The Sadrist leader, who denied any link between the Mahdi Army and Iran, said, "all Mahdi Army fighters are now under control in order to purge those who want to bring the Sadr movement and Mahdi Army into disrepute."

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