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Published:June 19th, 2008 07:32 EST
Shi'ite militias are target of Iraqi crackdown

Shi'ite militias are target of Iraqi crackdown

By SOP newswire

Iraqi security forces have launched a new crackdown against Shi`ite militias in the southern part of the country.

The operation began Thursday in Maysan province and its capital Amarah, a region U.S. commanders say is used as a base to smuggle weapons from neighboring Iran.  Over the past days Iraqi security forces have urged fighters in the area to hand over their weapons.

Maysan province also is a stronghold of radical Shi`ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.  Sadr aides have said his followers will not resist Iraqi forces.

The operation is the latest effort by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to combat Shi`ite militias.  It follows similar crackdowns in the southern city of Basra and in Baghdad`s Sadr City.

In northern Iraq today, coalition forces say they detained 21 suspected terrorists during operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq.