BAGHDAD (AFP) - Shia loyalists of radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said Friday they wanted to keep fighting US forces even after their leader ordered a halt of armed actions by his feared Mahdi Army militia. "I will follow the orders of Moqtada al-Sadr but I prefer to fight," said Adnan Habib, a 22-year-old labourer who attended Friday prayers in Sadr City, Sadr's bastion in eastern Baghdad. A crowd of Sadr supporters scrambled to sign a document in their own blood, pledging to follow an earlier order issued by the cleric two weeks ago that called on them to continue the resistance against US forces. Loyalists were seen cutting their thumbs with scalpels and then putting a blood print on the document distributed by the members of the Sadr movement. Habib who signed the pledge with his blood print said: "I want to sacrifice my soul, my family, for Sadr. I want to resist the occupier." Another Sadr supporter, Ali Abdel, a 19-year-old high school student, has been wanting to join the ranks of the Mahdi Army since the death of his mother in an attack targeting a police patrol a year ago. "My entire family has signed to fight, including my father. If my mother was alive, she would also have signed." When asked if he knows how to fight, Ali replied with a broad smile: "Which Iraqi does not know how to use a weapon?" A number of children aged around 10 years old were also seen signing the pledge with their blood. Sadr officials, however, said they did not accept minors as members of the group. Sadr on Thursday ordered his 60,000-strong Mahdi Army militia to suspend its armed operations indefinitely, after two six-month periods in which he had ordered them to hold their fire. The cleric's latest order came at a time when Washington and Baghdad are negotiating a crucial security agreement to decide the future of US forces in Iraq. "The Mahdi Army suspension will be valid indefinitely and anyone who does not follow this order will not be considered a member of this group," Sadr said in a statement issued by his office in the Shia shrine city of Najaf. The cleric said he wants to create a special unit of fighters who would continue the armed resistance against coalition forces, while the Mahdi Army in general would be transformed into a cultural and social organisation. Falah Hassan Shanshal, a lawmaker from the Sadr bloc in parliament, said the cleric now wanted to serve society. "The philosophy of Moqtada al-Sadr is the same as that of his father Mohammed. Like his father, he wants to serve society and build society," Shanshal told AFP. He said the movement would organise literacy drives for young men and women although it did accept that most "young men want to resist" the US occupation of Iraq. Many young Sadr loyalists told AFP they did not see any role for themselves except as fighters. "I prefer to resist by force using arms, this is the only thing I am capable of doing," said Mohammed Mussa, a baker for the past 18 years. The militia, created after the 2003 US-led invasion to fight invading American troops, became the most active and feared armed Shia group in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, accused of operating death squads blamed for the killings of thousands. In 2006, at the height of Iraq's communal bloodletting, a Pentagon report said the Mahdi Army was the greatest threat to the country's security, even greater than Al-Qaeda. Sadr ordered a six-month freeze of Mahdi Army activities in August last year after allegations his fighters had been involved in clashes with security forces in the shrine city of Karbala. He extended the freeze for a further six months in February and on Thursday ordered an indefinite suspension of the militia's activities. Sadr led two uprisings against US-led forces in 2004 and had repeatedly vowed to fight on until US troops leave Iraq.