Armed men have surrounded the house of a top Shi'ite Muslim cleric in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, ordering him to leave the country within 48 hours, aides to the cleric told Reuters on Sunday.Shi'ite sources said U.S. troops stationed on the outskirts of Najaf had moved into the city to restore order amid a struggle between rival Shi'ite groups for control of the historical heart of their religious community.
"Armed thugs and hooligans have had the house of (Grand) Ayatollah (Ali) Sistani under siege since yesterday. They have told him to either leave Iraq in 48 hours or they would attack," Kuwait-based Ayatollah Abulqasim Dibaji told Reuters.
Dibaji said the house was surrounded by members of Jimaat-e-Sadr-Thani, a shadowy group led by Moqtada Sadr, the ambitious 22-year-old son of a late spiritual leader in Iraq."Moqtada wants to take total control of the holy sites in Iraq," Dibaji said.