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Iraqi Official Says Al-Sadr In Iran, But Not Fleeing --> Muqrada al-Sadr (file photo) (AFP) February 15, 2007 -- An Iraqi official today backed U.S. military reports that radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is in Iran, but denied suggestions that he fled Iraq fearing arrest.

Sami al-Askari, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said al-Sadr is only visiting Iran and will return to Iraq soon.

Meanwhile today, the U.S. military said Iraq has begun closing its borders with Iran and Syria as part of a security crackdown aimed at stopping the movement of militants and weapons into the country.

(Reuters, AFP)
Muqtada Al-Sadr

Al-Sadr supporters demonstrating against the U.S. presence in Iraq in October 2006 (epa)

A RADICAL CLERIC. Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is a key figure in Iraq. He heads the Imam Al-Mahdi Army militia and a political bloc that is prominent in parliament and the government. His ties to Iran have also provoked concerns in some quarters.


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