Iraqi Troops Move Into Shi'ite Stronghold of AmarahBy VOA News
16 June 2008

An Iraqi Army soldier directs traffic at a checkpoint in Amarah, 320 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, 16 Jun 2008Iraqi government forces have moved into the southern city of Amarah, as they prepare for the latest phase of a planned crackdown on militias and weapons smugglers.

Officials say Amarah, the capital of southern Maysan province, is a stronghold for anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has given gunmen there until June 18 to surrender their weapons in exchange for cash. Maysan province borders Iran and is believed to be a major region for weapons smuggling.

In a statement Monday, Nasir al-Abadi, a senior Iraqi commander said Iraqi forces are in position to control the entire city.

Sadr has said his followers will not offer any resistance.

The operation in Amarah is the latest in a series of offensives designed by the Iraqi government to reduce violence and stabilize the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says an attack by al-Qaida in Iraq in the northern city of Mosul has killed one policeman and wounded four other people, including a child.

Officials say the insurgents simultaneously detonated a series of bombs, targeting four houses and three vehicles.

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