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Mehdi army to stand down in Iraq

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 Mehdi army to stand down in Iraq
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Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has announced his Mehdi militia will henceforth observe an indefinite ceasefire.

Last year al-Sadr ordered the first six-month ceasefire, which he subsequently renewed, but this is the first indication he may be preparing to change tactics from building a primarily military organisation to a more social one, along the lines of Hamas.

Earlier this month he said the militia would be disbanded as soon as the US announced a timetable for its troops to leave Iraq. Negotiations on that question are now reportedly well advanced in Baghdad.

In June al-Sadr announced the militia was restructuring to work peacefully against western cultural, social, and religious domination, and only a small elite force would continue to bear arms.