A deal aimed at putting an end to violence in Baghdad's Shia stronghold Sadr City went up in smoke on Tuesday when, only hours after the deal was signed, Shia gunmen opened fire on US troops.
The deal between the ruling Shi’ite alliance and Sadr’s opposition movement in parliament to end fighting in the
But with the ink barely dry on the 16-point pact, clashes flared overnight, raising questions over how much control the anti-American cleric has over some of the Mehdi Army militiamen who profess allegiance to him.
“It is clear that Sadr does not control all of the armed groups that make up the Mehdi Army,” Kadhum al-Muqdadi, a professor at
A statement from the Mehdi Army leadership that was read out in mosques in
A Reuters witness said there had also been intense gunbattles between Iraqi security forces and militiamen on Tuesday in Shula, a Sadr stronghold in northwestern
Iraqi police said 11 people were killed and 20 wounded in clashes in
They did not give precise details but the
A spokesman for the
Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover, said
“We’re not looking for a fight—we are establishing a safe neighbourhood for
The deal to end the fighting was announced on Saturday and welcomed by Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. His crackdown in late March on militias sparked fierce resistance from Shi’ite gunmen, especially the Mehdi Army.
Sadr’s political movement sought to distance itself on Tuesday from the more unruly militia elements in
Bahaa al-Araji, a legislator from Sadr’s movement, said he believed the Mehdi Army was committed to the agreement.
He did say what type of aircraft was attacked, but the New York Times reported the missile was fired at a U.S. Apache attack helicopter. It was launched after the agreement to end fighting in
Maliki says operations against militias are intended to impose law and order. Sadrist officials have accused him of trying to sideline the cleric’s popular mass movement before provincial elections in October.
The movement, which boycotted the last local elections in 2005, is expected to do well at the expense of other Shi’ite parties supporting Maliki, especially in the Shi’ite south.
Sadr, who is believed to be living in
While the order held for many months, it has appeared increasingly irrelevant in recent weeks.
Date created : 2008-05-13