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US Forces Mass Outside Najaf - 2004-04-14


U.S. troops are gathering outside the Iraqi city of Najaf for a possible move against radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The deputy head of U.S. military operations in Iraq, General Mark Kimmitt, says a significant number of forces are around the Iraqi holy city, which is partially controlled by the cleric's militia. He says U.S. troops will go after Moqtada al-Sadr at the necessary time to end the violence started by his militia this month.

Meanwhile, another U.S. official in Baghdad, Dan Senor, says alleged al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is believed to be in or near the restive Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Also Tuesday, a U.S. military helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing after coming under fire near Fallujah. A U.S. Marine was also killed in the area and an American soldier was killed in an attack south of Baghdad.

At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan says continuing violence in Iraq will prevent him from sending a large UN team back to the country "for the foreseeable future." He says violence has already hindered a small UN team working with Iraqis on forming a new government.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AP.

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