LE: "There is a great game in play here..."
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN in Washington, this is "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER: It's 11:00 a.m. here in Washington, 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 6:30 p.m. in Tehran and 7:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition." We'll speak with Senators Lieberman and Specter in just a few moments.
First, let's get the latest on the situation in Iraq. There's been another huge truck bombing today. CNN's Michael Ware is joining us in Baghdad.
Michael, what are the latest details that are just coming in on this truck bombing and the other violence continuing throughout the country?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as with ever so much here in Iraq, this particular bombing today is shrouded by a fog of inconclusive reporting. What we do know for a fact is that earlier today in Mahmudiya, a town just 21 miles south of the capital, there was a devastating explosion in which 15 civilians have been killed, according to Iraqi government officials, and many, many more wounded.
There's conflicting reports from police and the Ministry of Interior here about what caused the explosion, either a truck bomb laden with all types of munitions, or a Katyusha rocket. There's conflicting reports, as I said, but nonetheless, the violence just continues with this massive detonation and an ongoing affair of much smaller attacks claiming lives across the capital and elsewhere across the country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michael, there was a very ominous statement released today in the name of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American radical Shiite cleric. I know you've had a chance to review this. He has an enormous following among Iraqi Shiites, as you know. And it's very worrisome given the potential he has to disrupt this new U.S. strategy.
WARE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is a very powerful political statement or that's what it's intended to be. This is a statement of intent, and it can't just be seen in isolation. What we have is this rebel, anti-American cleric who commands this powerful militia -- that's been fracturing and splintering and questions have been arising about his ongoing level of control -- sitting back in Iran, a country where the U.S. has tried to say his flight or his movement to this country is a sign of his weakness, he's saying, "Uh-uh, folks, even from here I can muster my faithful in Najaf, in the Holy City." And he's doing it in a very astute way.
He's not calling for them to come out and support him or his movement. In fact, he's banning that. He's calling to them for a nationalist display of Iraqi flags. And in his message, which we've been hearing much rumor about amongst his foot soldiers for some days, he says, "Stop attacking each other. My militia, stop attacking the police and vice versa. Focus on your common enemy, the occupier," which, of course, are the U.S. forces.
And don't forget, we've seen Iran recently return the British troops. We've seen it have the return of its diplomat who went mysteriously missing. We saw the prime minister of Iraq, who supports America, denied overflight to Iran a couple of days ago, according to wire reports. And now we see Muqtada, backed by Iran, with this show of political might. There is a great game in play here, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Michael, stand by. I want to have you back later on "Late Edition" to talk about the latest op-ed column that Senator John McCain has written criticizing the news media, criticizing the coverage coming from Iraq not showing, in his words, "enough of the good work, the good progress that's being done." But that will come up later. Stand by, Michael, in Baghdad.