In a major new clash, Iraqi troops backed by American and British firepower today captured a stronghold of fighters loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra, said Iraqi officials. In a show of force, American planes and British artillery attacked a deserted area outside the Sadr-controlled section of Hayaniya before Iraqi troops moved into the neighborhood and seized the center, Reuters reports.
A Sadr spokesman pointed to “tragic” humanitarian conditions in Hayaniya. “They have surrounded the district and are preventing the wounded from going to hospitals,” he said. Another Sadr rep said fighters were not resisting because of the cleric’s August ceasefire order. Meanwhile, clashes in Baghdad’s Sadr City last night killed 12 and wounded some 130, police say.