Sadr lieutenant captured in Najaf

May 26, 2004 at 12:28 PM

WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- U.S. forces captured a "key lieutenant" of a rebellious Shi'ite cleric in Najaf, Iraq, Tuesday, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

Riyad al-Nouri, wanted in the killing of cleric Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei in April 2003 at the Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, will be handed over to Iraqi authorities, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt.

Al-Nouri is related to Moqtada Sadr by marriage, according to Kimmitt. Sadr is also wanted in the al-Khoei slaying, one of the reasons he sparked an uprising by his militia last month.

U.S. forces clashed with Sadr militiamen in five separate engagements in Najaf Tuesday. Kimmitt said U.S. forces had 21 different engagements Tuesday night with forces loyal to Sadr in Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi forces successfully expelled most of Sadr's milita from Karbala during the weekend, U.S. officials said.

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