|A U.S. Army Bradley vehicle patrols through the impoverished Baghdad suburb of Sadr City April 6, 2004|
Najaf: Militiamen loyal to radical Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr fought gun battles with foreign troops in southern Iraq on Tuesday, with their leaders vowing to resist the United States-led occupation.
The US has vowed to arrest Sadr, accused of leading a wave of bloody confrontations with US-led occupation forces.
But his supporters vowed on Tuesday to fight until occupying troops left populated areas and prisoners were released.
Fighting between his followers and Italian troops in Nassiriya killed around 15 Iraqis and in the town of Kut witnesses said two Ukrainian armored vehicles were in flames.
Sadr's militia, known as the Mehdi Army, has held violent protests and launched attacks in several Iraqi cities in recent days to protest the detention of one of his aides and the closure of a militant newspaper by US-led authorities.
"This insurrection shows that the Iraqi people are not satisfied with the occupation and they will not accept oppression," said a statement from the cleric, which an aide read at a news conference in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.
The US army said three more American soldiers had been killed in the Shi'a areas of Baghdad.
Heavy fighting was also reported in the Sunni Muslim towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad, as US Marines mounted a major operation to root out guerrillas. Residents said gunfire and blasts were echoing across Fallujah.
US troops have long faced daily attacks in the "Sunni triangle", including Fallujah. But the fighting in Shi'a Muslim areas represents a new front for occupying troops trying to pacify the country ahead of a June 30 handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government.
US President George Bush has insisted the violence by Sadr's supporters would not derail Washington's plans for Iraq.
But a new opinion poll as Bush campaigns for November re-election showed support among US voters for his handling of Iraq had fallen to a new low of 40 percent - down 19 points since mid-January.
The US-led administration said on Monday an arrest warrant had been issued several months ago for Sadr in connection with the murder of another Shi'a cleric in 2003.
Sadr's supporters said he was in his Najaf office and pledged to fight any attempt to detain him.
A Pew Research Centre poll which reported the slump in approval for Bush's handling of Iraq also found 44 percent of Americans wanted US troops withdrawn from the country.
US Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, a key backer of Democrat John Kerry's bid to unseat Bush in November, said Iraq had become "George Bush's Vietnam".
A senior US army official said the Pentagon was looking at sending more troops to Iraq if the situation deteriorated, but believed it already had enough soldiers in place.
Fighting has raged between Sadr's supporters and foreign troops since clashes in Baghdad and Najaf on Sunday killed at least 48 Iraqis, eight US soldiers and one Salvadoran soldier.
The US army said two soldiers had been killed in the Shi'a Kadhimiya neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday and another in the same area on Tuesday. All three attacks involved fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades.
A health ministry spokesperson said that in Baghdad 66 Iraqis had been killed and 317 wounded in the violence that began on Sunday. The impoverished Sadr City district has seen some of the heaviest clashes with US troops.
In Nassiriya, 375km south-east of Baghdad, clashes between Italian troops and Sadr's militiamen erupted before dawn as 500 Italian soldiers mounted an operation to dislodge fighters in control of key bridges in the town.
Paola della Casa, a spokesperson for the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in the area, told Italy's Ansa news agency that about 15 Iraqis had been killed. An Italian officer in the town told Reuters that 12 Italian soldiers were wounded.
"We launched a large-scale operation on Tuesday morning to restore public order to the town after two days of civil unrest," Major Simone Schiavone said. "The city was divided in two, with the bridges under their control. We had to go in and sort out the situation before it deteriorated."
Clashes were also reported in the southern towns of Amara, where British troops are stationed, and in Kut.
The US military said four Marines had been killed on Monday in the volatile al-Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah. The Marines have launched a major new mission to pacify Fallujah, imposing a curfew and sealing off roads.
The mission - "Operation Vigilant Resolve" - follows the killing and mutilation of four US contractors in the town in the past week. A cheering crowd set the bodies ablaze and hacked them up.
A total of 429 US troops have been killed in action in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein.
Source: Independent On-Line
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A true American moron in action, as usual.
I disagree with brother Sayf Udeen Husayn, I believe in the will of God, and if by God's will that American troops shouldn't have reached the peek that they have thus far then by God it is probably the destiny that the so-called Kufr can perhaps bring about change to a war torn society.
Societies themselves change and I do not believein some Shiite theocracy. Muqtader Al-Sadr is not an individual ( to my understanding) is bringing about peace. In fact, if his main goal was to bring peace and change to the Iraqi people then his philosophy would have been more diplomatic rather in fierce words.
It's impossible for an underdeveloped society such as Iraqi to prosper if the initial philosophy is fierce rhetoric and fighting. I agree on the other hand, although American politics in Iraqi is suspended on the thin thread of "liberation" I believe each country has an agenda. No country whether Islamic-or as you say brother Husayn "Kufr" is truly pious. Each society has a goal- The advancement of that society apart from the rest of the world, therefore you must call a spade a spade.
THE MURDER OF AYATOLLAH AL-KHOEI WHO WAS KILLED
BY MEMBERS OF THE MAHDI ARMY WITH KNIVES AND A GUN SHOT ON APRIL 10, 2003. AL-SADR IS USING THE PRESENT SITUATION IN IRAQ AS AN EXCUSE TO(A)INCREASE HIS CONTROL OF MASJIDS PRIOR TO THE SPRING PILGRIMAGES BECAUSE THAT IS WHEN THE MONEY FLOWS IN (B)AVOID HAVING TO PAY FOR HIS CRIME OF CAPITAL MURDER EVEN IF IT MEANS SACRIFICING IRAQI CITIZENS AND EVEN DESTROYING THE NATION (C) PREVENTING THE EMERGENCE OF DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW IN IRAQ AS THAT WOULD RELEGATE HIM TO INSIGNIFICANCE AND HURT HIS OVERBLOWN EGO. JUST AS MUSLIMS IGNORED THE
ATROCITIES OF SADDAM HUSSEIN THE SAME THING IS BEING DONE NOW WITH AL-SADR WHO IS IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH HIS SUPERIROR AYATOLLAH AL-SISTANI
WHO HAS ISSUED INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW A PATH OF PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN ORDER TO BUILD THE FOUNDATIONS OF IRAQ ON A FIRM BASIS AND NOT ON POWER PLAYS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PEOPLE. BUT NO. AL-SADR IS ON A ROLL AND HE HAS THE SUPPORT OF A LOT OF HOTHEADS ESPECIALLY HIS MAHDI ARMY WHICH IS MADE UP OF PAID MERCENARIES. ITS TIME FOR THE TRUTH TO PREVAIL INSTEAD OF TAKING SIDES
AND HARMING THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ AND THIS CHANCE THEY HAVE TO BUILD A PROSPEROUS AND DEMOCRATIC FUTURE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. LET THE SELF-APPOINTED AMBASSADORS OF ISLAM NOT DESTROY EVERTHING THEY TOUCH. IS ANYBODY INTERESTED IN THE TRUTH AT ALL ANY MORE?? BISMILLAH.