Iraq's Defense Ministry says followers of Moqtada al-Sadr must disarm and leave Najaf now that the radical Shi'ite cleric has agreed to end the uprising in the holy city.
The ministry issued its statement late Wednesday -- hours after Moqtada al-Sadr sent a letter to Iraqi officials saying he would meet demands to dissolve his militia, leave the Imam Ali mosque and join Iraq's political process. The cleric sent that letter after Iraqi defense officials threatened a major assault.
Despite the agreement, gunfire and explosions could still be heard in Najaf Wednesday evening. In Washington, U.S. officials reacted cautiously to the developments. They say they are hopeful the cleric will end his uprising but skeptical because of his record of violence since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.