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Hello? Any insurgents in there? Okay now. Here we come . . .

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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-04-07 11:44 PM
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Hello? Any insurgents in there? Okay now. Here we come . . .
U.S. gingerly enters sensitive Iraq neighborhood

March 4, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq --

More than 600 U.S. soldiers and 550 Iraqi troops, backed by a column of armored vehicles, took part in Sunday's operation, described as a first step toward establishing a permanent U.S.-Iraqi security station within Sadr City. Military officials say these stations will foster trust between local residents and troops and will form the backbone of the security plan, which is seen as a last-ditch effort to quell sectarian warfare between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, fueled in large part by execution-style killings attributed to Shiite militias including the Mahdi Army.

At least 15 stations have been established in other neighborhoods of Baghdad, according to the U.S. military, and several more are planned. Those in Sunni neighborhoods are aimed at quelling the Sunni-led insurgency, which has used bombings, roadside explosives and sniper attacks to kill American troops and spread terror among the Shiite majority.

Setting up in Sadr City, which is named for al-Sadr's late father, a revered cleric, is a tricky maneuver because al-Sadr is politically influential with fellow Shiites, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The troops arriving Sunday participated in what they termed a "soft-knock" operation, clearly aware that one wrong move could stoke anger among al-Sadr supporters. The troops avoided pounding or kicking on doors and, according to people whose homes were searched, were unfailingly polite and observant of Muslim sensibilities.

In a few hours, the operation was over for the day. A checkpoint was dismantled, allowing traffic to move normally. The convoy rumbled away, and shopkeepers returned to business as usual.

Still unclear is what will happen when troops return to establish a permanent presence, and how long al-Sadr will keep a lid on his militia.
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