Talks between a delegation representing residents of Falluja and fighters on the one side and the Iraqi interim government on the other ended on a positive note, informed sources on Wednesday told Aljazeera.

 

The sources said an agreement leading to a ceasefire in Falluja would be announced on Thursday. Talks would however continue in Baghdad to work out a mechanism to implement the agreement.

 

According to the understanding reached on Wednesday, the Iraqi National Guards would maintain security in Falluja. The guardsmen would be joined by the so-called Falluja protection force comprising residents of the city and nearby areas.

 

The US-led forces would continue to remain outside Falluja, complying with a key demand of the fighters.

 

Amnesty offer

 

US tanks entered Sadr City
despite ceasefire, said al-Darraji

In Baghdad's mainly Shia suburb of Sadr City, Iraqi interim government prime minister Iyad Allawi offered an amnesty to fighters of the al-Mahdi Army if they surrendered their weapons, accepted the presence of Iraqi police forces and abided by the law, Aljazeera reported.

 

Earlier, in an interview to Aljazeera, Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr, said efforts were proceeding to bring about a ceasefire.

 

"Religious scholars, prominent tribesmen in al-Sadr city, and members of al-Sadr office in Rusafa in Baghdad have presented an initiative to the Iraqi interim government," al-Darraji said.

 

The officials had promised a ceasefire from Tuesday 2030 hrs (local time)," al-Darraji said.

 

"Unfortunately, we were shocked when US helicopters pounded al-Sadr city and US tanks entered the area from three directions," he said. 

 

Points 

 

"We also fear a violation of the agreement after it has been signed, just like what happened in Najaf city"

Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji,
aide to Muqtada al-Sadr

Shaikh Ali Smeisim, a member of the delegation, said there were still some points to be resolved, al-Darraji said.  

 

Among the points in dispute was the issue of raiding houses. "We do not accept searching citizens' houses," he said. 

 

"We also fear a violation of the agreement after it has been signed, just like what happened in Najaf city," he said. 

 

In Najaf, the city's religious authority had come up with a peaceful initiative, but US-led forces and the Iraqi National Guards raided al-Sadr's office in the city, stormed houses, arrested Shaikh Ahmad al-Shaibani, other members of the office and followers of the al-Sadr movement, al-Darraji said.

 

This time, we want guarantees, he said. 

 

"Our demand is clear: stop pursuing followers of the al-Sadr movement," al-Darraji said.