Kalashnikovs bristle on every street corner in Baghdad's Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Click "Play Video" to view images of the fighting in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods. (Report: M. Ibrahim and L. Menget)
One street corner, one Kalashnikov. This is SadrCity, Baghdad's Shiite area, locked in battle with the Americans. These exclusive pictures were shot on Thursday alongside fighters from the Mahdi army, the radical cleric Moqtada al Sadr's militia.
While it has consistently been a hotbed of militant activity, SadrCity has experienced an eruption of violence since February, when Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki announced a major offensive against al Qaeda forces in Iraq.
SadrCity is a sprawling slum of some 2.5 million mostly impoverished Shiites and has been the frequent site of US and Iraqi army crackdowns.
Many of the combatants here are young, and it’s used as a training ground to test the mettle of potential candidates for al Sadr’s black brigades militia
On May 10, al Sadr’s militia agreed to a ceasefire with government forces, but fighting seems to continue, if only in a limited manner, as these images attest.
The US army reported that the area was quiet the night of May 17, as US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Baghdad for talks. US President George W Bush is also visiting the Middle East, and said Saturday that peace in the region was possible, but that “tough sacrifices” would have to be made.
Like others before them, many of the fighters in SadrCity will become martyrs. Seven weeks of fighting here have left more than a thousand people dead and 2500 wounded.
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