Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric, has postponed his followers' march toward a bombed Shia shrine north of Baghdad.

 

Al-Sadr postpones march 

  

"Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inability to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement," Sheikh Asad Al-Nassiri, an aide to the cleric, said on Friday.

 

He made the announcement during a Friday sermon in nearby Kufa.

 

Earlier on Friday, the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in Iraq's parliament called on al-Sadr to cancel the march, saying it was too dangerous.

 

Al-Sadr had called for his followers to march to the Askariya shrine in Samarra known for its shimmering golden dome destroyed by suspected al-Qaeda bombers in February 2006.

 

After a second attack toppled the mosque complex's minarets earlier this month, the cleric called for Shias to march to the shrine on July 5.

 

The statement by the Sunni bloc, which holds 44 seats in the 275-member legislature, came a day after the Iraqi cabinet and the defence ministry both made similar pleas, saying the road to the mosque was not yet secure.

 

"We call on our Shia brothers and those in the al-Sadr movement to postpone their planned visit in July to the Askariya shrine, which was the target of two terrorist criminal attacks that aimed to divide Iraqis," the statement said.

 

Raids

 

US forces killed three people they described as militants and detained more than two dozen in a series of raids across Iraq on Friday targeting "Al-Qaeda" networks.

  

The military said troops killed the three men in a raid near the town of Fallujah in the western Anbar province.

 

In the same raid troops detained 16 armed groups for their alleged ties to a "top Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader", while in the same province near the town of Karmah, another raid led to arrest of four more fighters, the military said.

 

In a third operation south of Baghdad, troops searched a building to arrest a close aide of a militant known for  orchestrating vehicle bombings in the capital, capturing the suspect  and two other militants.

  

A fourth raid resulted in the arrest of another aide of a leader in Tarmiyah, near Baghdad, the military said.

 

And in Mosul, two more suspects were detained in a raid targeting a top leader operating in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.