Iraqi Forces Battle Mahdi Army in Basra

Sadr promises 'civil revolt'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 11:32 AM CDT
An Iraqi police officer mans a checkpoint in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 25, 2008.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Iraqi security forces fought pitched gun battles through the streets of Basra today, trying to wrest control of the oil-rich city from Mahdi Army militants. An enraged Muqtada al Sadr promised a “civil revolt” if the attacks on his faction didn’t stop and ordered police cleared from the streets of his Sadr City slum stronghold in Baghdad, Reuters reports.

Sadr’s top Basra official urged calm. “We are ready to negotiate,” he said. Nouri al Maliki was in Basra today, calling the attack proof that Iraqi forces can act without coalition support. So far, at least 22 have been killed, the London Times reports, including many civilians. “There are clashes in the streets,” said one witness. "Bullets coming from everywhere."