Al-Maliki extends deadline for Shia militia’s surrender

March 28th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, March 28 (DPA) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki extended Friday the deadline until April 8 for the Shia militia to lay down weapons, media reports said. Al-Jazeera news channel said al-Maliki, who has launched an assault against militants in the southern city of Basra, has extended the time for the Mahdi Army, loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, to surrender weapons by April 8.

On Wednesday, al-Maliki set a 72-hour deadline for the militants to lay down arms or face “severe penalties”.

Meanwhile, clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia fighters in Basra raged Friday for the fourth day as unrest spread to other Shia cities and Baghdad.

On Tuesday, heavy fighting broke out in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, as Iraqi ground forces backed by US air and ground support launched a large-scale operation to break the grip of Shia militias and criminal gangs controlling the city.

Nearly 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers are involved in the operation, which is directed by al-Maliki, who is the general commander of the armed forces.

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