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US forces storm al-Sadr home
Rediff Newsdesk | August 13, 2004 03:03 IST
US forces stormed the house of rebel Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, seized weapons and destroyed a nearby building with a 500-pound bomb, CNN reported today.
The network said the cleric was not in his house and was rumoured to have holed up in the Imam Ali Mosque, a place of much significance to Shiites worldwide.
Thousands of al-Sadr's supporters are in the mosque with him and have laid land mines in the sacred compound, Iraqi authorities told CNN. Iraqi forces have no plans to storm the mosque though, given the possible repercussions.
Under heavy fire, Marines raided a maternity clinic near al-Sadr's house and had a school building nearby bombed, the network reported. Official told CNN the military actions were a continuation of operations that have been going on all week, calling the latest a "clearing" operation for taking out the remaining fighters. He called the fighting light to moderate and said no US casualties have been reported thus far and said the Mehdi Army was confined to a "fairly small portion" in the center of Najaf.
It quoted US officials as saying that there were up to 2,000 Marines in Najaf and about 1,800 soldiers from the Iraqi National Guard in the area and that the fighting has spread beyond Najaf.
At least 71 members of insurgent militia members have died and another 380 have been wounded in clashes across Iraq with U.S.-led multinational forces, including Iraqi security forces, during the 24-hour period ending at 9 a.m. Thursday, it cited the Iraqi health ministry as claiming.