KARBALA, Iraq (AP) U.S. forces battled fighters loyal to radical Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in his stronghold of Kufa overnight Sunday, and at least 18 people died. Many militiamen returned to their homes after abandoning the center of another holy Shiite city, Karbala, witnesses said.
The clashes broke out when American tanks and troops moved into the city for the first time as part of an effort to weaken the militia of al-Sadr, a fierce opponent of the U.S.-led occupation who launched an uprising against the coalition in early April. He routinely delivers a sermon at Friday prayers in Kufa.
It seems as if even AP is getting tired of “the holy city of …” designation. It calls to mind a recent Scrappleface headline: “New York, Washington Declared Muslim Holy Cities.” Now that’s thinking outside the box, and an interesting tactic to boot.
Back to AP:
The U.S. military has said al-Sadr’s forces are using mosques and shrines to store weapons and organize attacks, while the radical cleric’s supporters have accused the military of desecrating holy places.
Meaning: if al-Sadr’s forces attack from the mosque it is not a desecration, but if U.S. forces follow them back to their lair, it is.