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Renewed Strikes On Al-Najaf

20 August 2004 -- U.S. warplanes and forces hit positions overnight held by radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militiamen in and around the Imam Ali Mosque.

Reporters in the area described the bombing as some of the heaviest in the two-week standoff in Al-Najaf.

Earlier yesterday, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a "final call" for the insurgents in Al-Najaf to disarm and said he was still prepared to accept a truce from al-Sadr.

Meanwhile, in the Sunni Muslim city of Al-Fallujah, U.S. warplanes bombed suspected insurgent positions. U.S. warplanes have bombed targets in Al-Fallujah almost daily over the past week.

Elsewhere, suspected al-Sadr militants set fire to the headquarters of Iraq's South Oil Company in Al-Basrah.

For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".

Factbox: Iraq's Holy City of Al-Najaf