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Muqtada Sadr
In Iraq, death toll rises among Shiite recruits battling insurgency
In Iraq, death toll rises among Shiite recruits battling insurgency

The unadorned wooden boxes arrive lashed to car roofs or secured in the beds of pickup trucks, a steady procession of mortal remains on a doleful final journey to this holy city. Only days ago, they were enthusiastic Shiite Muslim recruits who answered the call of their clerics to fight a Sunni Arab insurgency. Now they are coming home lifeless and broken — the victims of bullets, bombs and shells. Each day brings the remains of dozens of young men honored as martyrs. First, they are given a ritual washing. A fleet of converted golf carts, painted black, stands by to shuttle their caskets to a farewell blessing at the majestic shrine of Imam Ali, a central figure in Shiite Islam....

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