American troops kiled at least 12 militants during fighting on Sudany in Sadr City in Baghdad. US Secretary of State Rice arrved in the city to lend support to the Iraq government as fighting raged between the Mahdi army and its opponents. Militant supporters of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked a US checkpoint with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades early in the morning. A US spokesperson noted: “There was an uptick in violence in comparisoon tih the past couple of weeks.” Hospital sources reported several civilian deaths including those of children.
Al-Sadr believes the attacks on his Mahdi army is designed to crush him politically and prevent it from winning seats in provincial councils. In his waning posted on Saturday, al-Sadr warned of an all-out war of liberation against the Americans but so far his forces have been either unable or unwilling to present a formidable opposition to Iraq and US forces. Meanwhile, in the north there are reports of new Sunni militant forces organizing to fight the Americans and the Iraq government.
There are too many confusing and unknown factors at this point. Has the al-Sadr Mahdi Army ceased being an effective military force? Is there some overall objective in the mind of the cleric? Time will tell.