Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Crackdown 'nets 600 Sadr forces'


About 600 fighters and 16 leaders of the radical Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, have been captured by security forces in Iraq, the US military says.
The statement said 52 operations had been conducted in 45 days targeting the militia, which is loyal to Najaf-based cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Sunni extremists were also the focus of the crackdown, the US military said.

US and Iraqi forces are currently preparing for a broad offensive in the strife-torn Iraqi capital Baghdad.

In other developments:

* Five Iraqi police are reported wounded in a gun battle in Mosul

* Two car bombs in central Baghdad kill two civilian

* The deaths of two US are soldiers announced

* Seventeen Palestinian men are abducted in Baghdad by gunmen allegedly wearing police uniforms

* A civilian helicopter crashes in a Sunni area of Baghdad, amid reports that it may have been shot down.

A UN envoy in Iraq said the country was sliding "into the abyss of sectarianism" after two car bombs killed 88 people in a Baghdad market on Monday.

"These deplorable outrages again underscore the urgent need for all Iraqis to reject violence and together choose the path of peace and reconciliation," Ashraf Qazi said in a statement. ....

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