Al-Sadr group seeks Arab intervention
Thursday 12 August 2004, 16:35 Makka Time, 13:35 GMT
The Shia Muslim leader has called on loyalists to fight to the finish
Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr's group has called on Arab governments to intervene and work out a ceasefire in Najaf immediately.
Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, official spokesman of al-Sadr in Baghdad, told Aljazeera in an interview on Thursday that the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf was surrounded by US occupation troops.
Najaf is cut off completely and under heavy bombardment, al-Darraji said. "A shell was fired at the main entrance of the Imam Ali shrine indicating they have surrounded it," he said.
"I call on the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) to issue a fatwa preventing the the US occupation from entering the shrine," he said.
Muslims must also condemn this "criminal acts", the spokesman said.
"The entire Arab and Islamic world should refuse this tyranny. They should try to work out a ceasefire immediately," al-Darraji added.
Al-Darraji warned that if US occupation forces entered the Imam Ali shrine or tried to capture Muqtada al-Sadr, there will be bloodshed all over the country.
US forces have been warned not
to approach the Imam Ali shrine
"We will not stay silent. We will liberate Iraq fighting under al-Sadr," he said.
"I warn the US occupation forces if they approach Imam Ali shrine, Baghdad and all governorates will carry out operations to eliminate these forces," he said.
"Chaos and unrest will spread all over Iraq. Attacking the shrine is similar to attacking the Shia themselves, and they will take revenge," he added.
Al-Darraji said the government and the US forces were responsible for the safety of civilian families in Najaf.
Commenting on the resignation of Najaf's deputy governor, al-Darraji described it as a positive action to condemn the US occupation operations targeting not only al-Sadr movement but also the holy shrine.
"Any official, who has honour and pride, should resign and quit rather than abide by the demands of the occupation forces," he added.
Al-Darraji said the absence of religious authorities enabled the US occupation forces to repress the al-Sadr movement and attack the Muslim holy shrines.
An Al-Sadr spokesman said the
movement is at a turning point
"Their absence has played a major role in the US raid of Najaf and the attack against Imam Ali shrine," he said.
"I call on all religious scholars to issue clear statements and fatwas condemning the US raid of the city, in order to prevent bloodsheds in Najaf and other Iraqi cities," he added.
Al-Darraji said he believed that the current events form a historical turning point for the al-Sadr movement. "It is a revolution against corruption. It is an honour for al-Sadr movement," al-Darraji said.
The interim government wants to totally destroy al-Sadr movement, proving it only seeks to achieve its own targets and serve its own interests, he said.
"The 'terrorist operations' committed in Iraq are terrible," al-Darraji said, referring to the attacks by the occupation troops.
"If they really want to do something other than talking, they should head towards Najaf and stop the gunfire"
Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji,
official spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr
"The 'non-Iraqi' government is responsible for every blood drop of al-Sadr movement and of all the Iraqis particularly in Najaf," he said.
"We will continue fighting until the last drop of our blood, until the occupation forces pull out of the country dragging their tails behind them," al-Darraji said.
"Our blood will pave the way for those who will liberate Iraq and protect the holy shrines and for those who have refused to disgrace themselves through collaborating with the occupation forces," he added.
Commenting on talks to halt fighting, al-Darraji said that all these talks lacked seriousness.
"They (negotiators) are all doing nothing but watching us," he said. "If they really want to do something other than talking, they should head towards Najaf and stop the gunfire. Otherwise, there will be a disaster in Najaf and the whole of Iraq," he added.