Iraqi guardsmen freed

A group calling itself the Muhammad bin Abd Allah Brigades released 18 Iraqi soldiers it has captured, reported Aljazeera television.

    A senior al-Sadr aide denounced the capture

    The group which freed the soldiers on Monday had threatened to kill the captives unless an aide to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr was released.


    On Sunday, Aljazeera showed a video from the captors standing near a group of uniformed men it had seized, apparently from Iraq's National Guard.


    The captors were demanding the release of al-Sadr aide Hazim al-Aaraji, a Shia cleric, within 48 hours or they would kill their captives.




    In an interview with Aljazeera, a senior aide to al-Sadr, Shaikh Ali Smaisim earlier on Monday denounced the capture of the guardsmen and called for their release.


    "There is a conspiracy being set up against all movements that oppose the 'occupation' forces"

    Shaikh Ali Smaisim,
    aide, Muqtada al-Sadr

    "I condemn this action despite the assassinations, arrests, raids, and abductions carried out by the 'occupation' forces against al-Sadr movement and all other national and political forces that oppose the 'occupier'," he said. 


    "There is a conspiracy being set up against all movements that oppose the 'occupation' forces," Smaisim said. "Their members get arrested, assassinated or kidnapped," he added. 


    Al-Sadr supporters in Baghdad said US forces had arrested al-Aaraji in a raid in the Iraqi capital.


    Al-Sadr's supporters have launched two uprisings this year in Najaf and fought battles with government and US-led forces in Baghdad.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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