March 30, 2008 – The Battle of Basra On March 30, militia fighters stormed a state TV facility in Basra forcing Iraqi military guards surrounding the building to flee and setting armored vehicles on fire. A mortar attack against the palace that houses the military operations center killed one of al-Maliki’s top security officials. Later in the day, after running low on ammunition, al-Sadr ordered his followers to cease fighting. In a statement to the media, Sadr said: “Because of the religious responsibility, and to stop Iraqi blood being shed, and to maintain the unity of Iraq and to put an end to this sedition that the occupiers and their followers want to spread among the Iraqi people, we call for an end to armed appearances in Basra and all other provinces,” The New York Times reported that as of March 30, Shiite militiamen still controlled large parts of Basra and were continuing to stage raids on Iraqi government forces. USA Today reports that after the Mahdi Army requested a ceasefire, a negotiating team was sent by the Iraqi Government to Iran where an agreement for ceasefire was negotiated. McClatchy Newspapers reports that the Iraqi Central Government sent representatives of five Iraqi political parties to Qom, Iran to negotiate with Moqtada al-Sadr and Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the Commander of Iran’s Quds Force. “Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq.” General Suleimani was instrumental in the negotiations that put Maliki in power. Suleimani traveled into the Baghdad Green Zone to negotiate with the relevant parties. The IRGC has been a player in Iraqi politics for some time.