At least 20 gunmen and 8 civilians were killed Monday when the Iraqi Army battled fiercely for hours with members of a militia loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, in Diwaniya, Iraqi officials said.HERE'S A QUOTE I LOVE; (why don't more Muslims must speak out like this!?):
The violence, which one Iraqi general said included militiamen executing Iraqi soldiers in a public square, amounted to the most brazen clashes in recent memory between Iraqi government forces and Mr. Sadr’s militia.
After weeks of rising tensions and skirmishes between elements of the militia and American-led forces, it could increase pressure on Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a conservative Shiite, to find a way — political or military or both — to rein in Mr. Sadr’s powerful militia. ... The Mahdi Army and the military wing of the Supreme Council, the Badr Brigade, have fought pitched battles several times in Baghdad and the south in recent years.
... Ambassador Khalilzad said in an interview this month that Iran had been inciting splinter groups of the Mahdi Army to step up attacks against American-led forces in retaliation for the Israeli attacks in Lebanon. General Caldwell said days later that some militia elements had been training in Iran and had received weapons from groups or individuals in Iran, though it was unclear whether the Iranian government was involved.
Defense Minister Abdul Qader Mohammed Jasim, at a joint news conference with the British defense secretary, said the Iraqi government would do everything it could to make the country safe. "There are criminals and killers — we know the scum who wear the mask of the jihad and religion,” Mr. Jasim said. “They used to kill people as criminals and now they kill them under the cover of jihad.”WE COULDA/SHOULDA "NEUTRALIZED" SADR IN 2004. Now two years later, we're still battling him. That's what half-asssery always gets you. FDR and Truman never fell into that loser's game. More HERE and HERE.
BTW: this is more proof that the real key to peace is neutralizing Iran. And that will be a lot easier before they get nukes.