Iraq Mahdi Militia Escalates Fighting

Violence continues spreading across southern regions of Iraq and into Baghdad after at least 12 people were killed in Basra. A spokesperson for British forces, which are at the Basra airport, said the Iraqi army had mounted a cordon around two districts of the city and the police were attacking rebel outposts. Meanwhile, five districts of the central Iraq city of Kut fell to followers of radical cleric al-Sadr. A police spokesperson in the city said they needed help in maintaining law and order. “We ask US forces to help us with aircraft and vehicles. the miltants have spread out through Kut,” said Captain Majid Al-Imara.

The situation in Basra continues to pose problems for the security of the city. About 4,200 British soldiers are at the Basra airport but they will not, at the present time, engage in land battles with Mahdi forces. However, they are providing some aerial assistance but avoiding involvement in the Iraq directed offense against militants in Basra. Observers have seen extensive firing between the factions vying to control the city.