Cleric vows attacks if US troops stay in Iraq



Cleric vows attacks if US troops stay in Iraq Baghdad: A powerful anti-American Shiite cleric in Iraq with thousands of loyal followers says US forces who stay past the December 31 withdrawal deadline are fair game to attack.

Muqtada al-Sadr made the statement on his website Tuesday after Iraqi government officials recently said they were opening talks with Washington to discuss keeping a number of American forces in the country.

Iraqi officials, worried about a potential backlash if US troops remain, have reiterated that any potential American military force would be kept to train Iraqi troops.

But al-Sadr's statement indicates that thousands of Iraqis strongly oppose any American troops staying in the country, regardless of their role.

PTI