Monday, June 18, 2007

Brits & Iraqis Target Sadr & His Iranian Smuggling Operation

Good news coming out of the British sector in Iraq today. This from the Telegraph:

Up to 36 people were killed in southern Iraq today as British forces conducted house to house searches aimed at weeding out Shia militants smuggling weapons from Iran.

Fierce fighting broke out in the towns of Amarah and Majar al-Kabir, 200 miles south-east of Baghdad, as Iraqi special forces backed by the British moved in on the smugglers.

. . . Iraqi police said the Mehdi Army of radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was involved in the clashes, which took place in the Maysan province bordering Iran and lasted for about two hours before dawn. A Mehdi Army official said 17 of its members had been killed and 45 wounded.

America and Britain have frequently accused Shia Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq by supplying weapons and support to hardline Shia groups in the country.

Only last month coalition forces claimed to have intercepted plastic explosives said to have been supplied by agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Today’s raids took place in the neighbourhoods of al-Mulameen, Um Ghurba and al-Qatta'a, in eastern Amarah, as well as in the Mijar area, about 20 miles west of the city.

British military spokesman Major David Gell said: "We have not yet got the full details, but certainly it was an Iraqi Special Operations Forces operation which had been authorised by the government of Iraq last night and multinational forces were supporting."

Elsewhere today, two people were killed in clashes which erupted between Iraqi police and Mehdi Army fighters in the southern town of Nasiriyah. Local tribesman sided with Iraqi police to try to oust the militiamen from their town, Iraqi officials claimed.
Read the entire story here. The last sentence of this article is particularly intriguing for its nascent parallels to the Anbar Awakening Council. It is not clear from this article whether Sadr can be directly tied to the activities of the people who were targeted. And his Iranian connections need to be made well known.

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