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Fierce New Battles in Iraqi City of Najaf - 2004-08-24


U.S. forces and Shi'ite militiamen fought fierce battles today (Monday) in the Iraqi city of Najaf, where militants remain barricaded in the revered Imam Ali Shrine.

U.S. troops tightened their circle around the shrine, while military aircraft launched strikes on several militant positions in the area. One outer wall of the shrine was reported damaged in the fighting.

The renewed clashes follow fruitless peace talks between moderate Shi'ite religious leaders and the militia loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said today Tehran is not supporting Moqtada al-Sadr. He said his government has never supported any group or faction in neighboring Iraq.

Earlier, a U.S. Army spokesman said a Turkish citizen and two Iraqis were killed in an ambush in the northern city of Tikrit.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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