Falluja deal in sight

Negotiations to end fighting in the Iraqi city of Falluja are making headway but a ceasefire is still eluding protagonists in Baghdad's Sadr City.

    The Iraqi National Guard will be allowed to enter Falluja

    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.

     

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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