- Title: IRAQ: Iraq readies forces for militia crackdown
- Date: 16th June 2008
- Summary: (W4) AMARA, IRAQ (JUNE 15, 2008) (REUTERS) IRAQI MILITARY VEHICLES IN STREET OF AMARA CITY IRAQI SOLDIERS ON TANK MANNING STREET IN CITY IRAQI SOLDIERS DEPLOYING ON A BRIDGE IN THE CITY IRAQI SOLDIERS IN STREET OF CITY POLICE VEHICLE DRIVING ON BRIDGE MANNED BY IRAQI TROOPS IRAQI TANK TAKING POSITION ON BRIDGE IN CITY IRAQI TANK MANNING CHECKPOINT ON BRIDGE IRAQI SOLDIER RUNNING DOWN BRIDGE/ MILITARY VEHICLES AT BACKGROUND IRAQI HUMVEE DRIVING ON BRIDGE IRAQI SOLDIERS MANNING CHECKPOINT SOLDIERS NEAR TANK IN ONE OF STREETS OF CITY SOLDIER ON TANK MILITARY VEHICLES DRIVING IN STREET CONVOY OF IRAQI HUMVEES DRIVING IN STREET
- Embargoed: 1st July 2008 12:09
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA5CTERL01MX4BNUBL0TGV9OJ6U
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Iraqi security forces prepare for a fresh offensive against Shi'ite militias in the southern city of Amara.
Iraq's government beefed up army and police units in the southern city of Amara on Sunday (June 15) for a new crackdown on Shi'ite militias, witnesses said.
Convoys including armoured vehicles and tanks were seen moving through the northern side of the city.
The operation, which officials say will start on Thursday (June 19), is the latest stage in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's drive to stamp his government's authority on areas previously controlled by Shi'ite militias or Sunni Arab insurgents.
Army Major-General Tareq Abdel Wahab, leader of the security operation, told Reuters that government forces had a list of hundreds of "outlaws, criminal gangs and those who violate security" it would hunt down if they did not surrender.
Amara is a stronghold of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who agreed to a ceasefire after U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launched a major offensive on his Mehdi Army militia in Basra in March.
Past U.S.-led military operations in the area have targeted militants smuggling weapons from nearby Iran.
Perceived by some as lacking the resolve and charisma needed to stabilise Iraq, Maliki has gained respect at home and abroad with security offensives that have helped reduce violence to the lowest level in over four years.
Success in Amara could boost Maliki's image ahead of provincial elections, due on Oct. 1, seen as the battleground for a power struggle that could redraw Iraq's political map.
The Iraqi-led operations underscore the Shi'ite-led government's desire to take more control of security from the 150,000 U.S. troops in the country.
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