Last Stand in Sadr City
Ed Morrissey has posted a story on the upcoming (and hopefully) final clash between Sadr's militias and Maliki's Iraqi government:
Big push coming in Sadr City
Iraqi soldiers have begun evacuating families from portions of Sadr City, a sign that a large offensive will start shortly against the Mahdi Army militia that have long controlled the sector of Baghdad. Two stadiums have been secured for sheltering the evacuees as the government of Nouri al-Maliki attempts to break Moqtada al-Sadr’s last stronghold and end mortar attacks on the Green Zone. Maliki also wants to end Iran’s influence in Iraq, which caused Iran to cut off security talks with Maliki and the US:
Iraqi soldiers for the first time warned residents in the embattled Sadr City district to leave their houses Thursday, signaling a new push by the U.S.-backed forces against Shiite extremist who have been waging street battles for seven weeks.
Iraqi soldiers, using loudspeakers, told residents in some virtually abandoned areas of southeastern Sadr City to go to nearby soccer stadiums, residents said. UNICEF says about 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Sadr City, most of them from the southeastern section.
U.S. forces have increased air power and armored patrols in an attempt to cripple Shiite militia influence in Sadr City, a slum of 2.5 million people that serves as the Baghdad base for the Mahdi Army led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The U.S. military is trying to weaken the militia’s grip in the slum and disrupt rocket and mortar strikes from Sadr City on the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy and key Iraqi government offices. Link
The reporting by our esteemed left-wing media will be interesting to watch in the days ahead.