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Anti-American cleric in Iraq asks followers to cease attacks on US troops to hasten withdrawal
BAGHDAD (AP) ' An anti-American cleric in Iraq is calling on his followers to cease attacks on U.S. troops leaving the country so that the withdrawal isn't slowed down.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has been demanding that all American forces leave Iraq by the end of the year as planned, or potentially face widespread violence.
Al-Sadr says in a statement posted on his website late Saturday that he has ordered his militias to let the Americans leave peacefully.
He says his cease-fire order was spurred by last week's notice by U.S. officials in Baghdad that the withdrawal has begun.
Al-Sadr also warns he will step up attacks against U.S. forces if any stay past the end of the year, a move that American and Iraqi officials are now considering.