A Shi'ite Muslim woman passes by a damaged house in Iraqi holy city of
Najaf, August 22. On the dawn of the day, US forces launched a fresh round of
attacks against the stronghold of militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric
Moqtada Sadr in Najaf.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
A US tank aims at an alley in the
Iraqi holy city of Najaf August 22. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
Residents raise their hands above their
heads to avoid being attacked in Najaf, August 22.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- A fierce gunbattle erupted
overnight Sunday between US forces and militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite
cleric Moqtada Sadr near Najaf's holy shrine, said reports reaching here from
the holy city.
Sadr's Mehdi Army clashed regularly with US forces parked
in tanks around 300 metres (yards) away from the Imam Ali shrine, witnesses were
quoted as saying.
They added that guns and mortar bombs were heard being
fired from inside the mosque compound before a brief US aerial bombardment over
the Old City around midnight (about 2000 GMT).
Early on Sunday, US military aircraft pounded positions
held by Sadr's militiamen before the military tanks advanced to a few hundred
meters away from Imam Ali shrine for the first time during Najaf crisis,
al-Arabiya TV channel reported.
The 18 days of fierce fighting has resulted in hundreds of Iraqi victims and the destruction of the city which is almost deserted. Enditem