BAGHDAD, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has declared an indefinite cease-fire, ordering the 60,000 members of his Mehdi Army militia to halt violence.
A U.S. military spokesman said that the announcement appears to be "an effort to support the Iraqi people," Gulf Daily News reported.
"The Mehdi Army suspension will be valid indefinitely and anyone who does not follow this order will not be considered a member of this group," Sadr said in a statement issued from his headquarters in Najaf.
Sadr has promised to dissolve the Mehdi Army if a military agreement between the United States and Baghdad includes the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. In his statement, he said he plans to refocus the militia's efforts.
"We have set a cultural program for the Mehdi Army and we have named it Al Mumahidun (Supporters of the Mehdi), and everybody should abide by it and whoever does not agree with it will be expelled from the army," he said.
The Mehdi Army has been blamed for much of the anti-Sunni violence in Iraq.