Al-Sadr denounces Gates, demands U.S. troops quit Iraq

April 14, 2008

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says he will not enter any political process that would allow U.S. forces to remain in Iraq.

Al-Sadr also denounces U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a terrorist and says he will never work with Iraq's occupiers.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said al-Sadr was a significant political player due to his large following in Iraq's Shiite community. Gates also called on al-Sadr to take part in the political process.
Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia has been battling U.S. and Iraqi government troops for more than two weeks. Hundreds have died in the fighting.
But in a statement Saturday, al-Sadr says the Iraqi government must insist on the withdrawal of foreign forces if it wants peace in the country.