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Iraq's Sadr Bloc Ends Boycott of Parliament

By VOA News

The Iraqi bloc loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says it has ended a boycott of parliament.

The group Tuesday said its 30 lawmakers are returning because parliament has accepted demands to better protect Muslim shrines. Bloc members began a boycott last month to protest a second bombing of a revered Shi'ite mosque in Samarra.

In combat operations Tuesday, the U.S. military announced the beginning of a major assault on insurgents in the less-traveled areas of troubled al-Anbar province. Operation Mawtini includes more than nine thousand U.S. and Iraqi troops, and aims to neutralize the insurgency to prevent it from re-establishing itself in urban areas.

In other news, military authorities say at least 10 people, including at least three Iraqi soldiers, were killed today when a suicide bomber blew up his car next to an army patrol in Baghdad.

Also, Iraqi police say four people were killed and four wounded when a car bomb exploded near the Iranian embassy near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

In Diyala province to the north, police say gunmen slaughtered 29 people in the village of Diwailiya overnight. Army authorities said they suspect militants fleeing U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

In political news, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a second round of talks with the United States regarding Iraq could take place in the near future. Iran and the U.S. first discussed Iraq's security situation in May, during the highest-level talks between the two countries in nearly 30 years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 7/17/07 ... --

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