NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr urged a sea of rapturous followers Saturday to resist all occupiers of Iraq and oppose the United States, but not necessarily with arms. In his first speech since his homecoming Wednesday after years of self-imposed exile in Iran, the one-time firebrand burnished his anti-US credentials and urged supporters to give Iraqs new government led by Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki a chance. We are still fighters, said Sadr, who led two uprisings against the US military after the 2003 US-led invasion and has called for an earlier US withdrawal than the agreed deadline of the end of this year. Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought US troops and was blamed for much of the sectarian slaughter that gripped Iraq, called on his followers to chant No, no to America. He labelled the United States, Israel and Britain common enemies, and demanded that the Iraqi government, in which his movement will play a major role, honour a promise to end the US occupation this year, as agreed. The number of US troops fell to below 50,000 since the United States limited its role to one of advising and assisting the Iraqi authorities on August 31. Tens of thousands of people from across Iraq, standing for hours outside his house in the holy city of Najaf and carrying Iraqi flags and pictures of the black-turbaned cleric, enthusiastically greeted him Sadrs return to Iraq has jolted the country as it prepares for the full US withdrawal at the end of the year, seeking to use its vast oil wealth to rebuild after the years of sectarian warfare and the decades of economic stagnation under Saddam Hussein that preceded the invasion. Some minority Sunnis are apprehensive of a revival in Sadrs militia, but most Iraqis appear to hope Sadrs return at this juncture will help solidify Iraqs fragile stability as overall violence falls, despite continuing attacks by insurgents. Sadr said occupiers should be resisted by all means but added that arms were for people of weapons only, a comment that seemed to endorse the authority of the army and the police and could calm fears of a return of the Mehdi Army. The cleric, who fled Iraq in 2006 or 2007 after an arrest warrant was issued for him, told his supporters that they may carry out an act of resistance by opposing occupiers in our hearts. His message energized his followers. We will shake the ground under the Americans, if they will not withdraw, Aqeel Faisal, a 40-year-old shopkeeper from the southern city of Basra, said in Najaf. We will also shake the ground under the government, if it fails to deliver its pledges to serve the Iraqi people, said Faisal, who came to get a glimpse of Sadr and hear his words. Sadr has sought to shed the image of a rabble-rouser and appear a religious mentor and statesman as his movement assumes a new, powerful role in Baghdads coalition government. Open the way before the new government to prove that it is for serving the people, he told the crowd in Najaf, where many had slept in the street outside his house for days. The support of the Sadrists political movement, thought to have been brokered at least in part by Iran, was crucial in securing a second term for Maliki and ending a 9-month deadlock over the formation of a government. The Sadrist movement has toned down its religious rhetoric, and cast itself as less sectarian. It focused on public services in last years election, and grabbed 39 seats in Iraqs 325-seat parliament and seven ministries in the new government.