US troops arrest Sadr aide

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The Independent Online

US troops today arrested a representative of anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr in a central Baghdad hotel.

Hazem Aaraji, who is also an outspoken anti-US cleric, was detained in the conference hall of the Sheraton Hotel during a meeting of tribal leaders. His bodyguards tried to prevent the arrest, but stepped aside when confronted by the soldiers.

Several people in the conference hall shouted "Allahu Akbar!", or "God is Great!" and jostled with the soldiers as they pushed the cleric, dressed in a black robe and turban, out of the room.

Troops put Aaraji and an associate in a Bradley fighting vehicle and drove him away.

US forces have been battling al-Sadr's militia since 4 April and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

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