A member of the Mahdi Army stands on top of a burning M1A1 Abrams tank, which was knocked out yesterday in the Sadr City region of Baghdad and then set ablaze. The crew escaped with minor injuries. Four U.S. soldiers and one Ukrainian soldier died in Iraq yesterday, making it the deadliest day for the coalition in over a month.
Thousands have converged on Najaf to defend the Imam Ali shrine. Many of these appear to be civilians, who plan on blocking access to the mosque, but some appear ready to take arms to defend it. Reporters were ordered out of Najaf by the interim Iraqi government, but there are reports that several are either with Sadr's supporters, or have snuck back in.
In a move that might end the standoff, Pope John Paul II has offered -- and Moqtada al-Sadr has accepted -- his assistance in negotiating an end to the standoff. Such a move could make any efforts to move against Sadr even more of a political liability.