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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
In pictures: Najaf fighting
A US soldier next to detained men in Najaf on Thursday
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The US military has launched an assault on Najaf, south of Baghdad - vowing to crush a week-long uprising.
Shia militiamen supporting Moqtada Sadr
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The holy city has become a war zone after a six-week truce between US forces and followers of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr fell apart.
Najaf residents leave the city on Thursday
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Thousands of residents are fleeing the city after American soldiers gave warnings of the assault through loudspeakers.
Fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr make their way through the Najaf cemetery
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Much of the fighting centres on the city's sprawling cemetery, where hundreds of militiamen have taken up position.
Apache helicopter over Najaf
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US combat helicopters have been pounding the area.
An Iraqi woman clutching her child sobs as they leave their homes on Thursday
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Many have died in the clashes - which began as pilgrims were flocking back to one of Islam's most revered sites.
A man tries to evacuate his injured brother from al-Hakim hospital
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Even the hospital has become a dangerous place which patients are fleeing as best they can.
A follower of Moqtada Sadr shows a child part of a mortar shell during clashes
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The insurgents enjoy the support of some residents - both young and old.
Shopkeepers try to salvage some goods from the rubble of the market
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Najaf's outdoor market has been destroyed in the fighting...
Iraqi shop owners walk through the burnt remains of commercial stalls
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... and commercial life has all but ground to a halt.
Demonstrators in support of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr in Basra on Thursday
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The offensive has inflamed tensions elsewhere - with demonstrations and threats to blow up oil infrastructure in Basra.


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