Iraqi Army soldiers from the 42nd Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, prepare to leave their combat patrol base in the Sadr City District of Baghdad to conduct a mounted patrol on April 21. (US Air Force photo/Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz)
US and Iraqi troops continue to battle the Mahdi Army in Baghdad. Forty-one Mahdi Army fighters were killed in recent clashes in Baghdad and Hussaniyah. Twenty-two were killed in a single engagement as they attack a checkpoint in Baghdad. Most of the Mahdi Army fighters were killed as they attacked checkpoints and patrols during a sandstorm in Baghdad.
Mahdi Army fighters used the sandstorm to take advantage of the lack of air cover to attack US and Iraqi positions in eastern and northeastern Baghdad. Helicopters, fighters, and unmanned aerial vehicles were grounded due to lack of visibility. The biggest clash occurred on Sunday after a “large group of criminals” attacked a joint Iraqi and US Army checkpoint in a region in northeastern Baghdad with small-arms fire. Twenty-two Mahdi Army fighters were killed after the soldiers at the checkpoint returned fire. A US Abrams tank was also involved in the fighting. “The criminals’ small-arms fire was ineffective and there were no U.S. Soldier or ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] casualties in the attack,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported in a press release on the incident.
The same day, US soldiers killed 16 Mahdi Army fighters during a series of engagements in northeastern Baghdad. Mahdi Army fighters attacked patrols with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. In several instances, Mahdi Army fighters engaged US Abrams tanks, with no effect. No US casualties were reported in the fighting.
On April 26, Iraq soldiers from the 37th Iraqi Army Reconnaissance killed three Special Groups fighters in the town of Hussaniyah north of Baghdad. Hussaniyah has been a hotbed of Mahdi Army activity in the recent past, and Iraqi and US troops are conducting operation in the town “to disrupt Special Groups leadership by limiting their ability to coordinate large scale operations against Iraqi and Coalition forces.” Iraqi troops killed nine Mahdi Army fighters in Hussaniyah on April 22.
The Mahdi Army has suffered a heavy toll during the fighting over the past eight day since Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, threatened to conduct a third armed uprising. US and Iraqi troops have killed 151 Mahdi Army fighters in northeastern Baghdad since Sadr issued his threat on April 20.