NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is ready to disband his militia if Shi'ite religious leaders demand it, his aides said on Monday, a surprising offer given renewed clashes between his fighters and security forces.
The news came after Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who launched a crackdown on Sadr's Mehdi Army late last month, ordered the cleric to disband his militia or face exclusion from the Iraqi political process.
Black-masked Mehdi Army fighters have been principal actors in Iraq's five-year-old war and the main foes of U.S. and Iraqi forces in widespread battles over recent weeks.
The U.S. military said gunmen killed three of its soldiers in Baghdad on Monday, a day after seven were killed across Iraq.
Senior Sadr aide Hassan Zargani said Sadr would seek rulings from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric, and sen
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