Iraqi PM Announces Crackdown in Diyala ProvinceBy VOA News
23 June 2008

Nouri al-Maliki (File)Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says his troops will soon launch a counter-insurgency campaign in Diyala province, north of Baghdad.

Mr. Maliki made the announcement Monday in the city of Amarah in the southern province of Maysan, the site of a current operation targeting Shi'ite militias.

Iraqi government forces, backed by U.S. troops, have carried out similar operations against Sunni and Shi'ite extremists in Basra, Baghdad's Sadr City district and Mosul.

On Sunday, a female suicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded dozens more in Diyala's capital, Baquba. Iraqi security officials say a mortar attack on another town in Diyala Monday killed 10 people.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says small-arms fire south of Baghdad Monday killed an American soldier and wounded five others

Separately, the U.S. military says an Iraqi-Canadian man serving as an interpreter for U.S forces in Iraq was convicted Sunday on several charges in connection with a stabbing incident in February.

A U.S military court sentenced Alaa "Alex" Mohammad Ali to five months confinement after he pleaded guilty to wrongfully taking a knife owned by a U.S. soldier, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators.

Military prosecutors originally charged Ali with aggravated assault for allegedly stabbing another contractor at a combat outpost near the Iraqi city of Hit. The prosecution dropped the assault charge after Ali pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.

The trial is the first under a 2006 amendment to military law ( the Uniform Code of Military Justice) that says civilian contractors working for the U.S. government in a conflict zone can be punished by a military court.

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