Mahdi Army Fights Coalition in Baghdad, Karbala, Basra: Takes control of Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf
wire services report that there was more violence on Monday in Baghad. A contingent of the Army of the Mahdi clashed with a US patrol in al-Showla. US helicopters strafed the militiamen and the headquarters of Muqtada al-Sadr. There were further demonstrations, in the Sank and Bab Sharqi neighborhoods of Baghdad, Militiamen assaulted a number of police stations. Meanwhile, some US troops and Iraqi police were detailed to take down pictures of Muqtada al-Sadr from Baghdad’s walls. (-az-Zaman)
The Army of the Mahdi launched further attacks on Coalition bases near Najaf and Karbala. Their attempt to take the governor’s mansion in Karbala was beaten back by forces under Polish command. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s forces stopped them from taking the shrine of Imam Husayn in Karbala (- al-Hayat)
The Army of the Mahdi had some successes along with the setbacks. It took control of the governor’s mansion in Basra, as well as of the mausoleum of Imam Ali in Najaf and a shrine in the nearby city of Kufa. The Sadrists have long coveted the shrine of Imam Ali, but it had been taken over by the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. It is possible that the Badr Corps, which has a marriage of convenience to the Americans, withdrew rather than fight the Sadrists, with the knowledge that the US army was about to turn the Army of the Mahdi into hamburger anyway. Indeed, the Army of the Mahdi may control the streets in Najaf, at least for now.
The report said, ‘ Muqtada al-Sadr warned that Iraqis would stand up to America’s military might. In a signed statement, he demanded coalition forces halt attacking Iraqis and arresting people suspected of involvement in the worsening insurgency inside Iraq. “The US-led forces have the money, weapons and huge numbers, but these things are not going to weaken our will because God is with us,” according to the statement, which was sent to The Associated Press by the Qatar-based satellite TV station al-Jazeera. ‘
Muqtada appears still to be staging his sit-in in the Kufa Mosque, a holy site that the US will invade to its peril.
US forces also surrounded and closed in on the Sunni Arab city of Fallujah, where four US security men had been killed last week.