US and Iraqi troops kill 30 in battle with Shiite militia

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: AFP
Byline: Zeinab Mohammed
Date: 08 October 2006


DIWANIYAH, Iraq, Oct 8, 2006 (AFP) - US and Iraqi forces killed 30 militia
fighters Sunday during a fierce street battle in this southern city in
which a US main battle tank was severely damaged.

Fighting erupted in the southern city of Diwaniyah after an Iraqi and US
force attempted to arrest a local Shiite militia leader accused of
slaughtering Iraqi soldiers during a previous clash in August, officials

After a battle in which a US Abrams tank was put out of action by a salvo
of rocket-propelled grenades, the snatch squad returned and arrested the
suspect, identified by Iraqi sources as a local leader of the Mahdi Army

"Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division Baghdad soldiers killed
approximately 30 terrorists and detained a high-value target after a
terrorist attack today in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad," a coalition
statement said.

An Iraqi defence official named the suspect as Kifah al-Greiti, a local
commander in the Mahdi Army of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

In August, Mahdi Army fighters killed more than 20 Iraqi army soldiers in
Diwaniyah, including around a dozen who ran out of ammunition during a
gunbattle and were shot dead in cold blood, officials said at the time.

The attempt to arrest Greiti provoked a fierce response from his gunmen.

"An M1A2 Abrams Tank was struck by multiple rocket-propelled grenade rounds
and was severely damaged. Iraqi Army and MND-B Soldiers engaged the enemy
forces and killed approximately 30 of the terrorists," the statement said.

"Reportedly, up to 10 enemy RPG teams attacked the combined forces, of
which six teams were destroyed. MND-B and IA Soldiers immediately secured
the area so the damaged vehicle could be recovered," it said.

Eventually, the Iraqi soldiers captured their suspect, the coalition said,
adding that thus far there had been no reports of US or Iraqi military

Medics at Diwaniyah's main hospital reported that seven civilians had been
wounded during the battle, one of them critically, while sporadic firing
continued Sunday around the city.

The ferocity of the battle was a stark reminder that Iraqi and US forces
still face a difficult political and military challenge if they are to
master the powerful Shiite militias which control large parts of the

Coalition forces in Baghdad have recently been conducting exploratory
forays into a district near the Shiite militia bastion of Sadr City in
Baghdad but have yet to receive Iraqi government approval for a full-scale

In other Baghdad violence, a senior officer in the Iraqi police internal
affairs department was shot dead in the capital on Sunday, just five days
after an entire police brigade was accused of colluding with sectarian
death squads.

Security officials identified the victim as Colonel Tamer Salman, assistant
to the director of police internal affairs, an increasingly important unit
at a time when the government is under pressure to purge disloyal officers.

Iraq's fledgling police force has been accused of taking sides in the
country's increasingly brutal sectarian war, with Shiite-dominated units
said to allow militia fighters to attack Baghdad's Sunni minority.

Other attacks around the capital on Sunday included a mortar attack in
Waziriyah in central Baghdad on a police patrol which killed one policeman
and wounded another, as well as a bystander.

South of the capital in the restive Babil province, police discovered a
corpse lying by the side of the road. When they attempted to move it,
gunmen opened fire on them, wounding a policeman.

In Mussayib, a rain of mortars hit a residential neighbourhood, killing one
person and wounding two.

The central Iraqi province of Salaheddin witnessed the death of four
civilians near former leader Saddam Hussein's home village when their car
struck a roadside bomb.

In Kirkuk, authorities confirmed that a curfew which had locked down the
city on Saturday had been lifted and in the course of their day-long
operation Saturday, 150 people were arrested and 500 weapons were