Iraqi prime minister orders lifting of checkpoints around Shiite militant stronghold

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

BAGHDAD, Iraq Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday ordered the lifting of joint U.S.-Iraqi military checkpoints around the Shiite militant stronghold of Sadr City — another apparent move to assert his authority with the Americans and appeal to his Shiite support base.

All barricades and checkpoints around Sadr City and elsewhere in Baghdad must be lifted by 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT), al-Maliki said in an order issued in his capacity both as prime minister and commander of the Iraqi armed forces.

"These measures should not be taken except during nighttime curfew hours and emergencies," the order said.

"Joint efforts continue to pursue terrorists and outlaws who expose the lives of citizens to killings, abductions and explosions," it said.

The extra checkpoints were set up last week as U.S. troops launched an intensive search for a missing soldier and raided homes in search of death squad leaders who shelter in the sprawling slum that is home to an overwhelmingly Shiite population of 2.5 million people.