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U.S. Forces Clash With Iraqi Cleric's Militia

2 August 2004 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces clashed with militia members loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Al-Najaf today.

Al-Sadr's aides and witnesses said a gun battle erupted when U.S. and Iraqi forces approached al-Sadr's house.

A spokesman for al-Sadr in Baghdad, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Sudani, said U.S. soldiers surrounded al-Sadr's house and that fighting continued for several hours before the troops withdrew.

He said al-Sadr was not at the house during the fighting.

The U.S. military said Marines were fired on while conducting a security patrol in the city and that two Iraqi fighters were believed killed in the gun battle.

Earlier this year, al-Sadr agreed to a truce after leading a bloody two-month rebellion against the coalition.