Into Sadr City
The Baghdad Security Plan is heading to Muqtada al-Sadr's stronghold
The absence of U.S. forces inside Sadr City, the stronghold of radical, Iranian backed Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been a glaring anomaly to those watching the development of the Baghdad Security Plan. Iraqi and U.S. forces have focused on deploying in the mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods where the sectarian violence and al Qaeda suicide attacks have been the greatest. But all of this is about to change. U.S. and Iraqi forces will enter Sadr City in the next few days, establish at least one Joint Security Station, and begin clearing the neighborhoods, Reuters reports.
"We have conducted special operations in Sadr City for some months but this will be the first time we will launch full-scale operations there and the first time we will have a permanent presence there," said Colonel Billy Don Farris, coalition forces commander for Sadr City and Adhamiya neighbourhoods.
"There will be no sanctuaries in Iraq. We are going to go to every building and every house and incrementally clear the area. We will target any group that attacks Iraqi and US troops," he told Reuters.
The move into comes as Major General Bill Caldwell, the Multinational Forces Iraq (MNF-I) spokesman, announced that "talks with commanders of Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army with the 'Iraqi Government's blessing,'" are now under way.
Multinational Forces Iraq and the Iraqi government are working to divide and conquer Sadr's Mahdi Army, and the upcoming push into Sadr City is but the latest move in the operation, which has been ongoing since last summer.