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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

US Forces Move Into Sadr City

As I've said before, here is where it gets tricky. Reuters reporting:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces killed more than 50 Shi'ite militiamen Wednesday in a significant advance into a Baghdad suburb that is a powerbase for radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the military said.

The forces, backed by tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, advanced some 1.5 miles into Sadr City, a slum of two million mainly Shi'ite inhabitants, meeting sporadic resistance.

A U.S. officer said soldiers killed "slightly over" 50 Iraqis identified as firing upon the advancing forces. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the death toll.

In recent days, remember, while discussing the possibility of a truce in Najaf and still before today's surprise announcement of accepting conditions to lay down arms and leave the Imam Ali Shrine, al Sadr was telling followers that no matter the situation in Najaf, the uprising should continue throughout Iraq.

Now that he is, it seems, accepting a cessation of hostilities in Najaf, for the US military to push on into Sadr City seems overly confrontational, for this specific moment. This report is only minutes old at this point, however, and there may be more to come.

The more I think about it, given this incursion into Sadr City as reports of Sadr's acceptance of a truce are being made public, the more reason we have to doubt the reports in the first place. Perhaps the "truce" and Sadr's acceptance are simply some sort of psy-ops ruse? Perhaps an attempt to quell potential resitance before the tanks and Bradleys began to roll?

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