Gloves May Be Off For U.S. To Take On Militia




 
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Gloves May Be Off For U.S. To Take On Militia
 
January 19th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Gloves May Be Off For U.S. To Take On Militia


Gloves May Be Off For U.S. To Take On Militia
Miami Herald
January 19, 2007
Mahdi Army fighters said some of their commanders have been captured or killed by U.S. and Iraqi troops in Baghdad. If true, it would indicate that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has removed limitations on American soldiers.
By Associated Press
BAGHDAD - U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr today in Baghdad, his office said.
Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, Sadr's media director in Baghdad, was captured in the eastern neighborhood of Baladiyat, an official in Sadr's office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
The U.S. military said special Iraqi army forces captured a high-level, illegal armed-group leader during a raid in eastern Baghdad, but it did not identify the detainee.
The arrest comes a day after Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters said that they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments, has stopped protecting the group.
The two commanders' account of a growing siege mentality inside the organization could represent a tactical and propaganda feint, but there was mounting evidence the militia had ordered its gunmen to melt back into the population.
During much of his nearly eight months in office, Maliki has blocked or ordered an end to many U.S.-led operations against the Mahdi Army. Sadr is the prime minister's key political backer. As recently as Oct. 31, Maliki won U.S. agreement to lift military blockades on Baghdad's Sadr City and another Shiite enclave where an American soldier was abducted.
But Maliki reportedly had a change of heart in late November while going into a meeting in Jordan with President Bush. It has since been disclosed that the Iraqi leader's vision for a new security plan for Baghdad, to which Bush has committed 17,500 additional U.S. troops, was outlined in that meeting. Maliki is said by aides to have told Bush that he wanted the Iraqi army and police to be in the lead, but he would no longer interfere to prevent U.S. attempts to roll up the Mahdi Army.
In a meeting before his session with Bush, Jordan's King Abdullah II was said by Maliki confidants to have conveyed the anger of fellow Sunni leaders in the Middle East over the slaughter of Sunni Muslims.
When al Qaeda in Iraq bombers blew up the Golden Dome mosque, an important Shiite shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra on Feb. 22, Shiite militiamen, especially the Mahdi Army fighters based in Sadr City, stormed out of the enclave in a drive for revenge that has only grown in ferocity.
The U.N. reported this week that the sectarian fighting killed more than 34,000 Iraqis last year.
With the Sunni threat in mind, evidence since the meetings in Jordan indicates that Maliki has kept his pledge to Bush that there would be no further interference in favor of Shiite militias.
On Wednesday, the prime minister said 400 Mahdi Army fighters had been detained in recent months.
The midlevel Mahdi Army commanders, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the group operates in secret, said at least five top commanders of similar standing were captured or killed in recent months, including one snatched in a night raid from his Sadr City hide-out on Tuesday. They refused to name him.
 


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