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Fierce gunfire erupts in Najaf overnight
www.chinaview.cn 2004-08-23 06:51:35

  
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

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