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Iraqi regime launches assault on Basra
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 :Fighting between Iraqi government forces and militias loyal to Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr erupted Tuesday in the southern port city of Basra, as well as other towns and certain districts of Baghdad. Dozens were killed in the conflicts, according to the media and hospital officials. The new round of fighting threatens to unravel the fragile truce between Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and the US and its puppet regime in Baghdad, declared by Sadr in August 2007 and reaffirmed in February, a factor in the relative decline of deadly violence in Iraq over the past six months.
The Bush administration’s claims of “success” in its military surge are likewise at risk.
One Mahdi Army militiaman, reached by telephone in Baghdad’s Sadr City, told the Christian Science Monitor, “The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans.” One official in Sadr’s Basra office, speaking on condition of anonymity, informed a Los Angeles Times reporter, “The Sadr current is threatening to set fire to the oil wells in Basra if the Iraqi military continues its security plan.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government initiated the latest violence by launching a major military campaign early Tuesday morning against Sadr’s forces in Basra, the center of Iraq’s oil industry. While the US media passes along the claim that the assault came in response to clashes in recent days between Iraqi police and army forces and elements of Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the operation, codenamed Saulat al-Fursan (Charge of the Knights), was obviously planned well in advance, with the support or insistence of the American and British military. The New York Times noted in passing that “senior Iraqi officials had been signaling [the operation] for weeks.” As many as 15,000 Iraqi troops are involved.Read More
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 : Fighting erupts for a second day in Basra and elsewhere, as Iraqi soldiers confront Shia militants.
It is unclear who currently has the upper hand in Basra
So far more than 40 people have died and some 225 have been injured over the two days of clashes in Basra.
Fighting is also continuing in Baghdad, and there have been casualties after rockets were fired at the Green Zone.
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has given militants 72 hours to lay down their arms or face "severe penalties".
His campaign to "re-impose law" in the city triggered unrest elsewhere in Iraq, and many towns are under curfew.Read More
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 : Iraq may be facing the gravest challenge to its fragile security in more than a year. Shiite militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are fighting Iraqi government forces for control of Basra, and the violence has spread to Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the militamen have 72 hours to lay down arms.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 : Will the Iraqi government's crackdown on militias in Basra push Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to end the cease-fire that began in August? Peter Harling, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, says the Sadrists have been increasingly frustrated at being targeted by U.S. and government forces.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 : There have been violent clashes in Basra between Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The violence threatens to end the cease-fire with Sadr that began with the surge in U.S. troops in August.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 : Prime minister imposes deadline for fighters to surrender amid clashes in Basra and Baghdad.
Fighters loyal to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr have clashed for a second day with Iraqi and US forces in their Baghdad bastion of Sadr City and in the southern city of Basra. Iraqi security officials said at least 20 people were killed and 100 others wounded on Wednesday in Sadr City and confirmed that seven people had been killed in Basra.
Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has imposed a deadline for those fighting security forces in Basra to surrender. "Those who were deceived into carry weapons must deliver themselves and make a written pledge to promise they will not repeat such action within 72 hours," he said on Wednesday.