(dpa) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered an end to security operations against the Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Friday to allow militants to lay down their arms.
In a statement issued by the prime minister's office, al-Maliki said the move was aimed at the restoration of security across Iraq. It would also allow a chance for all militants to lay down arms and hand over their weapons, the statement said.
Iraqi families, who had left their houses during the attacks, would be able to get back to their homes.
Al-Maliki launched an offensive against fighters of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia on March 25 in Basra.
Sadr City in Baghdad, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, has also been the scene of heavy fighting between Iraqi and US troops and the militia.
Hundreds of people were killed in the fighting in Basra and Baghdad.
Earlier, al-Sadr said that the Sadrists were ready to cooperate with the Iraqi forces to clear all criminal gangs from Iraq's cities.