The defense minister in a press conference currently on Iraqi TV gave statistics to correct what he described as "exaggerated media reports" about civilian casualties and attacks on mosques since the attack on the Samarra shrine:
Mosques attacked/shot at without damage: 21 not 51
Moderately damaged: 6 not 23
Mosques destroyed totally: 1 not 3
Mosques occupied by militias: 1 not 2 (evacuated later).
Civilians killed: 119 not 183
It was also announced that day-time curfew in Baghdad and three other provinces (Salahiddin, Diyala and Babil) will continue for another two days.
More from the press conference:
In the same press conference, the interior minister said "we are not going to show tolerance towards those who cause violence anymore, those who felt like doing something have done what they done but we will accept no more of this" obviously referring to those who let their anger push them to violence.
The defense minister added that they are working in the government on activating the counter-terrorism laws which includes "arresting anyone who's found guilty of provoking violence".
And added "We have put the armored units of the Iraqi army on high alert and these units (one division+) will be deployed to the streets one we see a real need for that".
-Head of the Accord Front, Adnan al-Dulaimi says the government should be stricter in enforcing the law and suggests prolonging the curfew as the best measure to control the situation.
Al-Dulaimi also asked the Shia clergy to restrain their followers and called on the Sunni to remain calm and refrain from violence.
-PM Jafari orders the security forces to enforce a ban on public carrying of arms by unauthorized personnel.
-Study in schools and universities will be suspended until March 5th.
-Improvised barricades can be seen in a number of Baghdad neighborhoods (I've seen some in my neighborhood too) to stop outsiders from entering these neighborhoods.
-An advisory council has been formed from leaders of political blocs and top Iraqi figures to help the executive authority in containing the crisis.
-Sistani calls on tribes to protect the shrines in a meeting with tribal leaders of Najaf.
-The Iraqi army's armored division prepares for deployment and performs successful maneuvers with live monition for the first time.
-At least one Sunni mosque was attacked in Zayona district of Baghdad this afternoon and 5 worshippers killed in the attack while two other small shrines were attacked in Tuz Khurmato and Mada'in.
There were also rumors about an attack on the Sunni's most sacred shrine of Abu Haneefa, Zeyad has a first hand account on this one.
-The Sadr trend holds two meetings with Sunni leaders; one on the clerical level with the Association of Muslim Scholars and the other on the political level with the Accord Front.
A couple of joint press releases were made after the meetings in which the two parties made calls for unity among Iraqis and condemned all kinds of attacks on mosques and civilians.
In both cases the US and Iraqi authorities were blamed for the escalating situation.
Ironically, these are the very two factions believed responsible for the greatest deal of the violence in the past few days!
-According to Naseer al-Aani, spokesman of the Accord Front, the Front is now ready to consider resuming the negotiations for the new government after the government showed "good signs of cooperation" regarding the demands of the Front.
It is hoped that this step will help relieve the stressful condition but of course this requires that all the concerned parties commit to their promises.