Iraqi forces launch operation in cleric’s bastion

r11.jpgBAGHDAD (Reuters) – The Iraqi army launched an operation on Tuesday to take control of Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, the power base of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Army spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi said soldiers had launched “Operation Peace” in the sprawling area of eastern Baghdad early on Tuesday.

“The troops have entered all of Sadr City’s districts and are trying to arrest all the wanted men,” he told Reuters.

Moussawi said the troops had moved deep into Sadr City and taken control of three quarters of the area.

“The operation includes providing basic services for the dwellers of the city,” he said.

A health official resident in Sadr City, who asked not to be named, said no one had fired at the army when they entered and the district was quiet.

Iraq’s ruling Shi’ite alliance and Sadr’s opposition movement in parliament reached an agreement earlier this month to end seven weeks of fighting in Sadr City that has killed hundreds of people.

Sporadic clashes between Shi’ite militiamen and security forces in the area persisted after the agreement.

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