The destruction and elimination of Iran's proxy force in Iraq continues as US and Iraqi forces systematically disassemble the Mahdi "Army" in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.
A four-hour battle Tuesday between U.S. soldiers and Shiite militiamen left at least 28 Iraqis dead in the capital's Sadr City neighborhood, making it one of the bloodiest days in a month of sustained street fighting...
The battle Tuesday erupted as U.S. forces tried to evacuate a soldier injured by small-arms fire about 9:30 a.m., according to the U.S. military. During the evacuation, the troops were attacked with roadside bombs, as well as rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from houses, storefronts, alleyways and rooftops, said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a U.S. military spokesman.
...U.S. soldiers responded by firing rockets armed with high-explosive, 200-pound warheads, killing 28 fighters, Stover said. In a separate incident in Sadr City, a fixed-wing aircraft dropped a bomb at 5:15 p.m. that killed two fighters firing mortars at a joint U.S.-Iraqi outpost, the U.S. military said....
U.S. officials emphasized that U.S. troops responded only after they were attacked and that it was the fault of the militiamen if there were civilian casualties. "The sole burden of responsibility lies on the shoulders of the militants who care nothing for the Iraqi people," Stover said in an e-mail.
He said the militiamen purposely attack from buildings and alleyways in densely populated areas, hoping to protect themselves by hiding among civilians. "What does that say about the enemy?" Stover said. "He is heartless and evil."
...U.S. and Iraqi troops are fighting together to clear the southern portion of Sadr City, where militia fighters have launched their rocket and mortar attacks.
Lackeys for the Iranian backed militia of Moqtada al-Sadr complain that US forces are indiscriminately shooting up that place
"Sadr City is under the American hammer and nobody is monitoring it," said Leewa Smeisim, the head of the Sadr movement's political bureau. "Eighty percent of the military operations are targeting innocents, because the Americans want to make people turn against the Mahdi Army so they can enter the city and control it. Nobody is safe in Sadr City, neither women nor children."
True enough; no one is safe because the Mahdi's doesn't care who gets killed so long as it isn't them. They are fighting for their very existence. As Bill Roggio reports, the US Patrol was ambushed and a soldier wounded
During the evacuation, Mahdi Army fighters triggered three roadside bombs and fired rocket propelled grenades and machineguns at the US patrol. Five more soldiers were wounded in the attacks and two vehicles were damaged. None of the soldiers' injuries are reported as life-threatening.
During the battle, US soldiers from the 3rd Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division directed "a combination of weapon systems available," including munitions from a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, at Mahdi Army fighters "firing from buildings, alleyways and rooftops" in the dense urban areas of Sadr City. "The enemy continues to show little regard for innocent civilians, as they fire their weapons from within houses, alleyways, and rooftops upon our Soldiers," said Colonel Allen Batschelet, the chief of staff for Multinational Division Baghdad.
The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties during the single engagement. "A total of at least 28 militants were killed in the four-hour engagement," Multinational Forces Baghdad reported.
Stover refuted reports that US forces used aircraft to attack civilians in Sadr City. "Our Soldiers have a right to defend ourselves," Stover said. "This engagement began as we were evacuating a US Soldier shot while on patrol in south Sadr City and continued as militants continued engaging US Soldiers. We are NOT targeting law-abiding civilians. Those targeted were firing weapons at US Soldiers."
Laughingly, Moqtada al-Sadr says that such aggressive action on the part of the Maliki Government, who has ordered the Shi'ite militas disbanded one way or another, threatens the Sadr-ordered "cease-fire".
The Mahdi Army is flush with Iranian Arms, and the Shi'ite militias are the tool of the Iranian Government in Iraq: A tool being used to attempt to undermine the Iraqi Government and the US efforts there.
But with each successful operation, an effort which began a month ago in Basra, with each death of a Mahdi soldier, with each loss of a Mahdi stronghold, Iranian influence is diminishing.
And the influence of the Iraqi people strengthens.