U.S. air strikes kill 6 in Sadr City despite truce..

This is from wiredispatch. This sort of attack will not likely even register in the U.S. mainstream news. Yet as the article shows it registers among the families of victims. You can expect more attacks against Americans. Actually Sadr is trying hard to maintain a truce but for some reason the U.S. is forging ahead. Even the Iraqi govt. has condemned the attacks but the Iraqi govt. has no control over the U.S. forces. The occupying forces do as they like.


WRAPUP 1-U.S. air strikes kill 6 in Sadr City despite truce


Wisam Mohammed
Reuters North American News Service

Apr 27, 2008 09:50 EST

BAGHDAD, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. forces said on Sunday they killed six militants in air strikes overnight in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, despite a call by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for his fighters to observe a truce which seems to have reined them in.

In a sign of progress towards reconciling Iraq's main sects, Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met Sunni Arab Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi to discuss the eventual return of the main Sunni Arab bloc to Maliki's government.

Ten people were killed and more than 40 wounded overnight in Sadr City, where Sadr's fighters have battled U.S. and Iraqi troops for a month, Iraqi police and hospital sources said.

U.S. forces, who have launched several air strikes a day from Apache helicopters and remote-controlled drones, said they spotted three groups of militants at night and hit them from the air with Hellfire missiles, killing five gunmen.

A sixth fighter was killed by a helicopter strike in the morning and a seventh died in a shootout.

"I would like to emphasise that these are not 'violent' clashes, at least not in our definition. They are not protracted gunfights," said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover. "While attacks continue there have been less."

Abu Jassim, a Mehdi Army street commander, said Sadr's fighters were abiding by the ceasefire call and reducing their activities. They had orders not to shoot at Americans inside Sadr City to avoid clashes that would hurt civilians.

"This morning, the Americans entered on foot from the Jamila area. We could have hit them, but we have orders to defend the city against the occupiers but not inside the city," he said.

The black-masked fighters of Sadr's Mehdi Army could no longer be seen prowling Sadr City's streets as they had just days ago, a Reuters correspondent said.


CRACKDOWN

The government's confrontation with Sadr's fighters began a month ago with a crackdown launched by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the southern city of Basra.

Despite initial setbacks, the Basra campaign has since proved largely a success, with government troops taking control of neighbourhoods once regarded as militia strongholds and fighters disappearing from the southern city's streets.

In Sadr City, the cleric's main Baghdad stronghold, U.S. forces have advanced only into a small portion of the slum to put most of the Mehdi Army's missiles and mortars out of range of the capital's Green Zone government and diplomatic compound.

More than 700 missiles and mortars have been fired, mainly from Sadr City, over the past month. Fighting and air strikes in the slum have killed hundreds.

Food prices have skyrocketted and residents say they feel under siege. Many schools have shut.

Major-General Qasim Moussawi, Iraqi government spokesman for security in the capital, acknowledged civilian casualties were inevitable in fighting in a crowded slum.

"The area of this (Sadr) city is around 25 square kilometres (10 square miles) with an estimated population of 3 million. This means if a bullet is shot, it will hit a person," he said.

Um Aziz is an elderly woman whose three daughters and a son were killed when the roof of her house collapsed because of the force of an explosion nearby. She cursed the U.S. forces.

"I don't want any reparations from the government. I want my revenge from God," she said outside her ruined home, wearing bandages from her own injuries and a broken leg.

"Let the Americans listen: If they kill all the men, we will fight them. We: the women and the children. And if they take our weapons we will fight them with stones and knives."

Abu Issam, a government employee and Sadr City resident, said his two-year-old daughter has become so used to nightly bombardment that she can no longer sleep unless she hears it.

"Every night when she hears the mosque loudspeaker say 'Allahu Akbar' (God is greatest), she says to me: 'Papa papa, the Americans are coming!'"

Despite the clashes in Shi'ite areas over the past month, U.S. commanders say violence along Iraq's main sectarian divide between Sunni Arabs and Shi'ites has remained much lower after falling dramatically last year.

Maliki's government is hoping for a breakthrough soon that would lead to the Sunni Arab Accordance Front returning to Maliki's Shi'ite-led government, which the Front quit last year.

Maliki's office said this week the Front had lifted its objections to returning. Sunday's meeting between Maliki and Hashemi, the only senior Front member with an official position, was aimed at resolving the standoff, Hashemi's office said. (Additional reporting by Peter Graff; Waleed Ibrahim and Aws Qusay; writing by Peter Graff, editing by Tim Cocks and Robert Woodward)

Source: Reuters North American News Service

Additional links from Reuters North American News Service

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