Mon, Dec 01, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Troops search for militants in Baghdad

AGENCIES , BAGHDAD AND NAJAF, IRAQ

Iraqi forces surrounded a neighborhood in Baghdad yesterday, searching cars and houses for militants behind a rocket attack that killed two UN contractors, officials said.

Security forces searched cars leaving the al-Amin neighborhood and distributed flyers requesting information on two men suspected of firing the rocket, which struck near the UN compound in the heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday.

“Security forces are looking for wanted individuals and the people are supplying the forces with information on the gang that has been firing rockets,” said Major General Qassim Atta, the military’s Baghdad spokesman.

Meanwhile, influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has reservations about a pact allowing US troops to stay for three more years, but politicians must decide its value, a source said on Saturday.

Iraq’s parliament passed a law approving the long-awaited security pact on Thursday, paving the way for US forces to withdraw by the end of 2011 and taking the country a step closer to full sovereignty. They agreed it should be put to a national referendum by the end of July next year.

The cleric’s acceptance of the pact is crucial for it to be accepted by Iraq’s mostly Shiite population.

Sistani signaled the week before the vote that he would abstain from judging the pact and leave it to lawmakers to decide on two conditions: that it does not violate Iraq’s sovereignty and that it gets consensus from all of its communities.

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