The U.S. military on Saturday welcomed radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr' recent call on his Mahdi Army militia to suspend armed actions as "encouraging", saying that would help the U.S. forces focus on fighting al-Qaida network in Iraq.
Sadr's move would allow the U.S. and Iraqi security forces to " intensify their focus on al-Qaida-Iraq and on protecting the Iraqi population, as well as on helping Iraq rebuild its damaged infrastructure and improve basic services," the military said in a statement.
"The Multi-National Force-Iraq joins the Government of Iraq in welcoming Sadr's commitment to peace," it added.
On Wednesday, Sadr ordered his Shiite Mahdi Army militia to suspend its activities for six months after the deadly clashes that killed 52 people during a Shiite religious festival in the holy city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad.
The Iraqi government hailed al-Sadr's decision and described the step as a "chance" for all militiamen in Iraq to follow suit.
The military also said in the statement that the move is " important in helping Iraqi authorities focus greater attention on achieving the political and economic solutions necessary for progress and less on dealing with criminal activity, sectarian violence, kidnappings, assassinations, and attacks on Iraqi and Coalition Forces."
The U.S. troops frequently raided the Mahdi Army strongholds in Baghdad in the past weeks, targeting militiamen suspected of having ties with neighboring Iran.
However, the U.S. military considers the al-Qaida in Iraq network as the No. 1 in the war-torn country.