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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Iraq's Top Shiite Cleric Has Heart Procedure

August 14, 2004|From Associated Press

LONDON — Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, was in stable condition Friday after a procedure to unblock a coronary artery, his office here said.

A statement from the Imam Ali Foundation, Sistani's liaison office in London, said an angioplasty was performed on the 73-year-old cleric at Harefield Hospital outside London.

"There were no adverse side effects during this operation and his health is currently stable," it said.

Sistani flew from Baghdad to London on Aug. 6 to seek treatment.

Since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was ousted in April 2003, Sistani has played a key role in the country's political evolution. On Thursday, he expressed "deep sorrow and great worry" about violence in his home city of Najaf, where U.S. and Iraqi troops were fighting militia members loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr.

Sistani called on all sides to end the crisis quickly and said his office was working to mediate an end to the fighting.

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