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Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (file photo) (epa)
August 31, 2007 -- The Iraqi government has called on armed groups to follow the lead of the largest Shi'ite militia and freeze their operations.
The office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki made the call in a statement issued late on August 30.
The day before, radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Al-Mahdi Army to suspend their activities for six months while the militia undergoes "restructuring." An aide to al-Sadr said the ban "includes suspending taking up arms against occupiers."
The order came after fighting during a Shi'ite religious festival in Karbala this week left more than 50 dead.