Sadrist surge aims to hasten U.S. withdrawal

In a show of force, the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is organizing mass protests and denouncing a potential U.S. troop extension, amidst increased violence.
Moqtada al-Sadr speaks to his followers in Baghdad on Jan. 7, 2011. (DANIEL W. SMITH/Iraq Oil Report)

U.S. forces are bracing for planned rallies by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr throughout Iraq, issuing "movement restrictions" that will essentially freeze non-essential travel to minimize any additional targeting by unknown groups that have already sent rockets and mortars sailing toward military installations and the Green Zone at an increasing rate over the past two months.

The violence directed toward U.S. forces, including roadside bombs like the one that killed two soldiers in a vehicle patrol Sunday in western Baghdad, has increased along with rumors that the Iraqi government might ask U.S. forces to stay beyond an end-2011 withdrawal deadline.

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