Yesterday, mortar fire interrupted the previously delayed Iraqi National Conference meeting, leaving 2 dead outside of the venue. Around 100 of the 1300 appointed delegates left the conference in protest of what they see as a continuing bloodbath in Najaf, with the worst yet to come.
Several more US soldiers have been killed in the past few days, with attacks resulting in the destruction of at least one helicopter and one tank. Reports of dozens of civilians killed, including a large number of women and children, often as a result of indiscriminate bombing by US Forces, has resulted in the resignation of several Iraqi officials in protest.
Sadr's Medhi Army has occupied the Imam Ali shrine, thought by many to be one of the holiest sites in the Moslem world. US Forces have been battling Sadr's forces in a massive cemetery near the shrine for over a week. Prior to the latest US operations to oust him and his followers from the city, the city's police chief ordered journalists to leave the city. There are various reports of journalists having been arrested, threatened, shot at, and kidnapped.
US Forces had planned to use Iraqi National Guard forces to raid the shrine, to avoid the perception that the US was damaging/invading the shrine. Dozens of Iraqi National Guard members have refused to fight and have resigned in protest of the Najaf crackdown.
Meanwhile, one report indicated Iraqi Shi'ites flocking to Najaf to support the resistance, with 12,000 converging on the holy shrine with plans to form a human chain around it.
Sadr is pledging to continue his opposition, though he has reportedly been receptive to negotiation. Late developments indicate that the shrine has been booby trapped. There is no verification of this, but with a lack of journalists in the area, it would seem to give the US forces an opportunity to destroy the shrine, and blame it on the resistance, or on 'foreign fighters'. Sadr's popularity could grow even higher if he is killed.
An oil well has been reportedly been set on fire, and attacks on Iraqi oil infrastructure has been very successful at limiting supplies in recent weeks. Serious damage to the Imam Ali shrine could easily inflame the Iraqi Shi'ite majority, and another major error by the US and the appointed government may leave them subject to the exit plan of the Iraqi population.
Main source: http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/tiki-index.php