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U.S. troops clash with Shiite militiamen
by reposted
Saturday Jul 22nd, 2006 9:59 PM
U.S. troops clashed with Shiite militiamen south of Baghdad on Saturday in a three-hour gunbattle in which 15 gunmen and an Iraqi soldier were killed, U.S. officials and Iraqis said.
Dozens were wounded in the firefight in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad. It appeared the battle was part of a systematic campaign against the militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, blamed for much of the sectarian violence sweeping the country.

Sheik Jalil al-Nouri, an aide to al-Sadr, said U.S. troops attacked the cleric's local office in Musayyib and killed 14 of his followers. A U.S. statement said 15 gunmen and one Iraqi soldier were killed but made no mention of the Mahdi militia.

According to the U.S. account, the firefight began when gunmen attacked a U.S.-Iraqi patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire near a Shiite mosque. One militiaman was killed in the initial exchange of fire.

A U.S. helicopter destroyed a fuel truck believed rigged with explosives as it approached an American position, the statement said.

Gunmen repeatedly attacked the U.S. and Iraqi force, the U.S. statement said.

After about three hours of fighting, an Iraqi SWAT team entered a Shiite mosque from which the gunmen were firing and the clashes died down, the statement said.

Raids against followers of al-Sadr have been increasing in the past few weeks in the Baghdad area and southern regions. Last weekend, British troops arrested the Mahdi Army commander in Basra, where militias are believed to have infiltrated the police force.

by reposted
Saturday Jul 22nd, 2006 9:59 PM
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two American soldiers were killed Saturday in Baghdad, seven Shiite construction workers were gunned down and five Sunni civilians were blown up, deepening the capital's security crisis. Shiite politicians called on the prime minister to cancel his visit to Washington to protest Israel's attacks in Lebanon.

Elsewhere, U.S. and Iraqi forces backed by a helicopter gunship launched a major attack Saturday on a headquarters of a radical Shiite militia south of Baghdad, killing 15 militiamen in a three-hour battle, the U.S. said.
One U.S. soldier died in the second of two roadside bombs that exploded in east Baghdad at mid-morning. An Iraqi civilian was killed by the first blast, police said. Another American soldier died Saturday evening when gunmen attacked his patrol with small arms fire, the military said.

by more
Sunday Jul 23rd, 2006 4:44 PM
Car bombs in a Shiite slum in Baghdad Sunday killed 42. The area is policed largely by the Mahdi Army militia.
By Dan Murphy and Awadh al-Taiee
BAGHDAD – A floundering government campaign to crack down on militias and increasing sectarian killings have many Shiites turning to militias for protection, particularly radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's violent Mahdi Army.