Iraqi and US forces clash with Shiite militia

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
BAGHDAD, Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) - Iraqi and US forces fought a deadly gunbattle
with Shiite militiamen on Monday after raiding an impoverished eastern
Baghdad suburb, defence ministry and militia officials said.

"The American and Iraqi army raided Sadr City to arrest a number of Sadr
militiamen. They arrived near a house and militiamen opened fire on them.
They exchanged fire," an Iraqi defence official told AFP.

"The fight continued for two hours. As a result two militiamen were killed,
three others wounded. Two Iraqi soliers were wounded," he said.

Staff at the Imam Ali hospital said three civilians were killed, including a
woman and a three-year-old girl.

An AFP journalist in Sadr City reported that the raid on the area, a
stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was accompanied by air

A senior Sadr aide, Abdulzahra al-Suwaidi, claimed the raid had targeted
Sadr's Medhi Army militia to punish them for holding an anti-American and
anti-Israeli street rally on Friday.

"Because of the demonstration the occupation forces raided and carried out
air strikes killing and wounding people and burning several houses," he

According to a US military statement, the operation had been aimed at
"individuals involved in punishment and torture cell activities".

Sadr's Mehdi Army is widely alleged to have taken part in a wave of
sectarian and political murders across Baghdad in recent months, although US
and Iraqi officials are careful never to accuse it publicly.

"Iraqi forces, and their coalition advisers, began taking fire immediately
upon arrival at their objective; the fire lasted for the duration of the
operation and continued as they left the neighbourhood," the US statement

"Additionally, two large fires of unknown origin were observed by the Iraqi
forces as they left their objective," it added. One coalition soldier was
injured in the firefight.