Battle for Baghdad
US troops clashed with the Mahdi Army of clerical nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City Monday morning.
A car bombing of a large hall being used for a mourning gathering killed at least 15 and wounded at least 30 in Tikrit, a Sunni Arab city north of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein and his clan hail from this city.
In the capital, the US military and Iraqi soldiers of the elected government launched a big security operation. Some 3500 US troops had been brought down from Mosul (where security promptly collapsed, according to al-Zaman).
It turns out that the Sunni Arab guerrilla strategy had been gradually to ethnically cleanse southern districts of the capital [Ar.], so as to cut it off from the Shiite south. One observer in Baghdad told a friend of mine that this operation is make or break. If the US cannot stop the deterioration of security in Baghdad at this point, then the capital is lost, and with it the country.
Ironically, after intensively covering Iraq for over three years, the US mass media are largely missing this story, the pivotal one for the endgame.
Despite the big military operation, guerrillas ambushed an Iraqi checkpoint on Sunday, killing 5 Iraqi policemen. And there were two bombings (details not known). And 20 bodies were found in the streets, victims of faith-based hatred. Four bodies were found in the Tigris near Suwayra.
Some 10,000 ex-Baathists who had been fired from government jobs after the war have now been reinstated.