Bloomberg: Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr probably is still in neighboring Iran, the U.S. military said. By Robin Stringer
March 14 (Bloomberg) — Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr probably is still in neighboring Iran, the U.S. military said.
“As of 24 hours ago, he was not in Iraq,” a military spokesman, Major General William Caldwell, said today at news conference televised from Baghdad. “All indications are that he is still in Iran.”
Members of al-Sadr’s political group denied reports by the Pentagon that he left Iraq before Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces began Operation Fardh al-Qanoon, Arabic for “imposing law,” in Baghdad last month. Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia is suspected of attacking coalition troops and Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority.
There has been cooperation with some representatives of al- Sadr’s organization in working to improve security in Baghdad’s Shiite-dominated Sadr City, Caldwell said.
Al-Sadr is “a very significant part of this entire political process here within the government of Iraq. We are in fact tracking his whereabouts,” Caldwell said.