Calm reported in Basra as Sadr followers out of streets
A key adviser to Iraq's prime minister said Monday military operations in the besieged southern city of Basra will finish before the end of this week. According to Sami al-Askari, most of the Basra area is under control. AFP reported from the southern port city that Iraqi troops were deployed in most parts of Basra and there were no reports of any new clashes overnight.
In addition, fighters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr melted from the streets on Monday as a curfew in Baghdad was lifted and eased in Basra. On Sunday, Sadr pulled his fighters off the streets, signalling an end to the firefights which have killed more than 320 people across Iraq.
The Sadr movement in Baghdad confirmed fighters from the cleric's Mahdi Army militia were no longer deployed on the streets. "The Sadr movement and Jaish al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army) are committed to the order of Sadr. We are implementing the order of Sadr," said Hamdallah al-Rikabi, spokesman for the cleric's movement in west Baghdad.
He said several shops were also open and people were queueing to buy household items.
The US military said on Monday its troops had killed 41 "criminals" in Baghdad, including 25 who died when a suspected mortar team was bombed. The killings occurred on Sunday in eastern and northeastern Baghdad where American and Iraqi forces have been battling the Mahdi Army since Tuesday.
A volley of rockets, meanwhile, smashed into Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on Monday hitting at least five people, including an Iraqi army major and two American soldiers, a witness told AFP.