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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2007

U.S., Iraqi forces enter Shiite stronghold of Sadr City

March 5, 2007

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An Iraqi army soldier stands guard at a vehicle checkpoint Sunday at the entrance to Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Iraq. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers entered the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Sunday in the first major push into the area since an American-led security sweep began last month around Baghdad.

An Iraqi army soldier stands guard at a vehicle checkpoint Sunday at the entrance to Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Iraq. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers entered the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Sunday in the first major push into the area since an American-led security sweep began last month around Baghdad.

— U.S. and Iraqi troops poured into Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold Sunday, encountering no resistance in the one-time Sadr City combat zones but testing the Shiites' commitment to the U.S.-promoted campaign to drive militants from the capital.

Outside Baghdad, U.S. soldiers described a raid last week that uncovered a suspected Sunni "torture site" and the rescue of two Iraqi captives, who apparently had been spared immediate execution because the militants' video camera broke and they wanted to film the killing.

The quiet but dramatic advance in Sadr City - involving nearly 1,200 U.S. and Iraqi forces who didn't fire a shot - marked one of the most significant developments in the security clampdown in Baghdad since it took effect nearly three weeks ago.

But it only received the green light after drawn-out talks between U.S. commanders and political allies of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his powerful Mahdi Army. Both sides are watching each other for any wrong moves on the same streets where they battled in the past, including intense urban warfare in 2004.

Al-Sadr's militiamen lowered their profile under intense government pressure to give the security operation a chance to root out both Sunni and Shiite extremists. U.S. military leaders, however, must walk a fine line as part of the tacit truce. They are seeking suspected Shiite death squads leaders, but must keep from squeezing al-Sadr's militia too hard - and risk collapsing the entire drive to reclaim Baghdad from extremists and gangs.

"The indication that we are getting is a lot of the really bad folks have gone into hiding," said Lt. Col. David Oclander shortly after troops moved into Sadr City's teeming grid of low-rise buildings in northeast Baghdad.

Oclander said "not a shot was fired" as troops entered the area - which was constructed in the 1960s to house poor Shiites seeking work in the capital and was known as Saddam City until the former Iraqi leader's fall in 2003.

As the insurgency picked up steam in the past few years, Sadr City became the site of frequent battles. Among the U.S. casualties was Spc. Casey Sheehan, whose death on April 4, 2004, began the anti-war campaign of his mother, Cindy Sheehan.

Last week, U.S. and Iraqi forces began pinpoint raids into Sadr City seeking suspected leaders of Shiite death squads blamed for thousands of execution-style slayings of Sunni rivals in recent years. Since Friday, military planners have worked inside a Sadr City police station in apparent preparations to create a permanent outpost, police said.

Comments

Agnostick 7 years, 1 month ago

Safe and sound. Good, now our troops can rest easy, and leisurely guard the Halliburton trucks, as they roll in to set up their little fish markets and convenience stores.

If things quiet down here, we might even be able to spare a few boots on the ground to--GASP!--hunt down Osama Bin Laden.

Naahhh, that'll never happen...

Cynicism aside, it's good to know there wasn't any serious bloodshed on our side.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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couranna1 7 years, 1 month ago

We need to stop this war now. I hope all the troops come back safe but the truth is many will come home in bodybags for an immoral, unethical war started by a warmongering fool; W. I am also real tired of all the neocons out there saying "they know someone there" as they think that ends discussion on how messed up this all is. Leave Iraq alone We are doing no good there, the civil war will just happen after we leave. Didn't the US come up wth it's government thru civil war? After we kicked a wannabe ruler out of the picture. america is not god's country and never was we are the police to the world and our own crap is just making more and more want to strike at us and less countries who were our allies are backing us up. america needs more people to voice actively against this war and put a stop to it soon as more and more people ( and not just americans) are being killed in a war started by an idiot (W) based on lies, deceit, and fear gathering.(remember the bushie admin loving duct tape) christians see this (neocons) as a way to push their conversion agenda but that is garbage also as it will not work. Time to get out of Iraq they had nothing to do with 9/11 and you cannot be alive and aware and living in reality and still believe they did. Saddam is gone so it is time to stop backing the other criminal W Congress cannot stop him but if the people use what principles of protest and resistance are in the conststution we can stop him It is time

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