U.S. in big battles with Shi'ite gunmen in Baghdad

(reuters) - U.S. forces killed 45 Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad in fierce fighting that included a tank battle with dozens of gunmen who attacked a checkpoint under cover of a dust storm, military officials said on Monday.

Four U.S. soldiers were also killed in rocket or mortar attacks in the Iraqi capital on Monday, the military said.

The U.S. military said the checkpoint attack on Sunday night sparked the biggest battle in the city since Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki cracked down on militias a month ago.

It said 22 gunmen died in the assault. Another 23 were killed in other battles since Sunday in and around the eastern Baghdad slum district of Sadr City, stronghold of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The fighting showed some members of the cleric's Mehdi Army militia have apparently defied his order to observe a truce, raising questions about how much he controls his followers.

U.S. and Iraqi troops have been locked in a month of fighting with militiamen since Maliki, himself a Shi'ite, ordered the offensive in the southern oil city of Basra.

They have taken over about a quarter of Baghdad's Sadr City where Sadr's fighters held sway.

The Sunday attack was accompanied by multiple rocket attacks on the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound in central Baghdad. Militants fired more rockets and mortars on Monday. Among the casualties were three U.S. soldiers who were killed in eastern Baghdad and one soldier in the city's west, the military said. It gave no further details.

U.S. troops fired tank guns tanks to repel the raid on the checkpoint. Other fighters fled.

Maliki says the crackdown is designed to disarm militias, but Sadr's followers see it as an effort to sideline the mass movement before provincial elections in October.

The movement, competing in local polls for the first time, could do well at the expense of Shi'ite parties backing Maliki.


The attacks in Baghdad have coincided with dust storms and were launched despite a call by Sadr on Friday for calm.

The dust storms have grounded Apache attack helicopters, the main weapon used by U.S. forces to hunt militants firing rockets and gunmen roaming the streets.

"We are aware of the rise in attacks and how they correspond to bad weather," said a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

At the United Nations, Washington accused Iran of fuelling the clashes, saying it was training and supplying weapons to militias -- which Tehran denies.

"The recent clashes between criminal militia elements and Iraqi government forces in Basra and Baghdad have highlighted Iran's destabilising influence and actions," Washington's U.N. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Security Council.

After initial setbacks, Maliki's offensive in Basra seems to have been successful, driving militiamen off the streets.

Sadr City has proven a tougher challenge.

"Militias have infiltrated the state, the society," Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told Reuters in an interview.

"This cannot end without disarming these militias and dismantling them (or our) ... society will know no peace."

But Salih said a full-scale military assault in Sadr City, where 2 million people live, would risk too many civilian lives.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, met members of Sadr's political faction and parliamentary leaders on Monday in an effort to resolve the impasse.

Sadr has not appeared in public in a year and the U.S. military says he is living in neighbouring Shi'ite Iran, where he is believed to be taking advanced Islamic studies.

Sadr launched two uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004.

His movement then entered politics and backed Maliki's rise to power in 2006. But Sadr split with Maliki a year ago when the prime minister refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

He has veered between open confrontation and peaceful politics in the five years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, while remaining steadfastly anti-American and building a following of millions of poor Shi'ites.

Kazakh MFA talks great importance of developing relations with Turkic-speaking countries
Kazakh MFA talks great importance of developing relations with Turkic-speaking countries
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan ink agreement to step up cooperation in healthcare
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan ink agreement to step up cooperation in healthcare
National Bank of Kazakhstan adopts several anti-crisis measures during COVID-19 pandemic
National Bank of Kazakhstan adopts several anti-crisis measures during COVID-19 pandemic
Loading Bars
Air France plane forced to land in Sofia due to disruptive passenger
Turkmenhimiya SC opens tender for construction of plants for technical iodine production
Georgian GlenBerries company launches arrangement of greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruits
Azerbaijani Ministry of Education implementing innovative projects with Microsoft
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
We successfully completed all steps taken, including ending occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh - Erdogan
WHO official advises against introducing ‘immunity passports’ for travelers now
Russia logs 11,022 new COVID-19 cases
Azerbaijan confirms 149 more COVID-19 recoveries
Turkish FM pays official visit to Turkmenistan (PHOTO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 6
Uzbekistan transfers funds to UN Trust Fund for Aral Sea region
Turkish FM announces trilateral meeting between Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan
Lybian diplomat harshly condemns Armenia using mosque in Azerbaijani Fuzuli as stable
Iran discusses relations with IAEA
Iran's nuclear activities completely peaceful - Rouhani
Who could say that Azerbaijan was wrong when the war started? - President Aliyev
New stage already evident in economic sphere, period of transparency, precision, when monopolies suppressed - President of Azerbaijan
As Commander-in-Chief, I know where our weaknesses are - Azerbaijani president
Today we are working on equal agreement with EU, it has been agreed by 90% - President of Azerbaijan
At new stage, we need to further deepen political dialogue - President Aliyev
Why are our “democrats” silent? Why aren’t they saying that Pashinyan should become example for us? - Azerbaijani president
Popular Front-Musavat ruined relations with almost all countries in just one year - Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijan today is country conducting large-scale reforms - President Aliyev
We have no problems with any political entity in country - President of Azerbaijan
If there were no outside help now, Armenia would be gone, completely - President Aliyev
If we are building road, asphalt is ours, bitumen is ours, gravel is ours, so why should we take external credits - Azerbaijani president
We never begged like Armenia, never humiliated ourselves, never asked anyone for help - Azerbaijani president
2003-2020 period was one of preparations - President Aliyev
Younger generation should know at what cost we were able to maintain independence - Azerbaijani president
Today Armenia shies away from cooperation, we will force them - President Aliyev
Absolute majority of participants in battles are people who were children when I came to power in 2003 - President of Azerbaijan
To put it mildly, Luxembourg does not have special political weight in world for its foreign minister to make any claims to us - President Aliyev
So many accused me – Ilham Aliyev does not want peace - Azerbaijani president
Hands of Popular Front-Musavat tandem were imbrued in blood of Azerbaijani people - President Aliyev
Country was in absolutely uncontrollable state during PFPA-Musavat tandem - President Aliyev
It is necessary to plan future of country in such way as to ensure long-term sustainable development - President Aliyev
I highly appreciate activities of “91”, for whom national interests were paramount at time - President Aliyev
Establishment of New Azerbaijan Party was necessity - President Aliyev
Heydar Aliyev's unambiguous, resolute steps related to independence were highly appreciated by people - President of Azerbaijan
Turkish investors have interest in Azerbaijan's business environment - Turkey's MUSAID
We turned Azerbaijan into country enjoying great authority, respect in international arena - President Aliyev
We are a country that creates realities - President of Azerbaijan
Program I announced after presidential elections is being implemented, we are consistently achieving our goals - President Aliyev
Many important events taken place in life of country in three years since sixth congress of New Azerbaijan Party - President Aliyev
Reps of diplomatic corps in Azerbaijan visit Fuzuli airport's construction area
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 6
U.S. Embassy Announces 2021-2023 GIPA Master’s Degree Program in Journalism
Georgia reports 355 new cases of COVID-19 cases for March 6
Azerbaijan shows footage from Zangilan's Garadere village (VIDEO)
Democrats advance Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill in marathon Senate session
President Ilham Aliyev congratulates Azerbaijani women on International Women's Day
Iran's Revolutionary Guard has disrupted airplane hijacking attempt
Diplomats accredited in Azerbaijan start visits to liberated lands (PHOTO)
Iranian currency rates for March 6
Azerbaijani Nakhchivan's Separate Combined Arms Army holding live-fire training classes (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Azerbaijani Agency for Development of SMEs continues to support self-employment program
COVAX delivers over 20 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 20 countries - WHO
Interest-free funding regulation may boost Turkey's home sales
Iran records 0.8% economic growth under sanctions, pandemic
2021 Index of Economic Freedom: Georgia 12th in world and 7th in Europe
Electricity consumption in February amounted to 1.6 bln kWh in Kyrgyzstan
Chinese investors have major potential for attracting cargoes to Georgian Anaklia seaport
Belgium announces phased plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions
More than 20,000 U.S. organizations compromised through Microsoft flaw
U.S. detained nearly 100,000 migrants at Mexico border in February
Number of German enterprises in Uzbekistan increases in last four years
Spike in Canada exports to U.S. leads to surprise January trade surplus
Brazil working with Biden on climate, Amazon deforestation - foreign minister
Luxembourg ratifies protocol on tax agreement with Russia
U.S., Britain announce 4-month tariff suspension in aircraft subsidy dispute
Aeroflot to make flights to Seychelles from April 2
Kazakh MFA talks great importance of developing relations with Turkic-speaking countries
Georgia expands list of countries from which tourists can travel to country
Iran to hold talks with EAEU soon
Pfizer vaccine to arrive in Georgia in the week of March 22 - seputy health minister
Turkey registers more than 11 302 new coronavirus cases
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan ink agreement to step up cooperation in healthcare
Wind energy replaces coal as Germany's biggest energy source in 2020
National Bank of Kazakhstan adopts several anti-crisis measures during COVID-19 pandemic
Azerbaijani FM, head of Baku office of CE exchange views on development of new action plan for cooperation (PHOTO)
Norwegian company discloses amount of investments made in Azerbaijan
BSEC countries discuss impact of pandemic on tourism sector
Azerbaijan’s AzerGold, Chem Trade company sign contract
Georgia-Ireland Council to be important chain for strengthening bilateral economic relations
Uzbekneftegaz, Uzbek-Chinese JV talk prospects for co-op in oil, gas industry
Russia's Rosselkhoznadzor discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
World Bank may support Azerbaijan in fight against COVID-19
Azerbaijan names volume of compulsory non-life insurance market in Jan.2021
Swiss plan free coronavirus tests for population
Liberated Azerbaijani lands have great potential in winemaking
Azerbaijan may apply quarantine measures if COVID-19 infections continue to increase
UK watchdog looks to 'open banking' apps to help boost competition
Georgian mobile operators see decrease in total revenues for 2020
Georgia plans to build hanger in Telavi airport for private jets
Chevron to buy out Noble Midstream in all-stock $1.32 billion deal
Azerbaijani State Security Service shares grief of death of Turkish servicemen
Azerbaijan eyes to start employment promotion activities in liberated areas
Armenia once again demonstrates that it is far from sound thinking - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
Initiated by Mehriban Aliyeva, Heydar Aliyev Foundation makes new contribution to protection of world and religious heritage in Vatican (PHOTO)
All news