U.S., Iraqi troops fight Shiite militants in S Baghdad, three killed

By Xinhua,

Baghdad : U.S. and Iraqi troops fought militants in a Shiite neighborhood on Tuesday, killing three people and wounding nine others, an Interior Ministry source said. The troops clashed in the morning with Mahdi Army militiamen who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns in the Abu Dsheer neighborhood which is a stronghold of follower sloyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

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The clashes resulted in the killing of three people and the wounding of nine others, the source said.

Separately, dozens of families earlier in the day left their homes in Sadr City neighborhood in eastern Baghdad to other areas in the capital to take shelter from ongoing fierce clashes between U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces and Sadr followers, the source added.

Over 900 people were killed in more than a month of fierce clashes in Sadr City between Mahdi Army militia and U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces, when a U.S. and Iraqi military crackdown sparked an uprising by Sadr’s Mahdi Army militiamen. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that Sadr must disband his Mahdi Army militia or will be barred from taking partin the provincial elections slated in October. Many Sadrists view Maliki’s crackdown as a means to eliminate his Shiite rivals and to facilitate the political benchmarks set by the U.S. administration before the provincial elections.