Iraqi forces entered Sadr City in Baghdad this week to help curb ongoing fighting in the Shiite stronghold. The incursion is part of a wave of offensives that Gen. David Petraeus said Thursday were helping to improve overall security. Analysts examine the state of the Iraq conflict.
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Now to the latest from Iraq in Washington and on the battlefield.
Through this month and last, Baghdad's Shia stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of heavy urban combat. American and Iraqi ground forces fought pitched battles against militias led by Muqtada al-Sadr. The cleric has been locked in an intra-Shiite political struggle with Prime Minister al-Maliki and his allies.
After weeks of fighting, the last few days have brought some quiet. Amid a fragile truce, Iraqi government forces re-entered Sadr City without American support in an effort to peaceably disarm the militias.
The troops and police were greeted by residents now able to venture out and by clerics bearing gifts, copies of the Koran.
The Shiite militiamen appear to have largely faded from the scene for now. An Iraqi military spokesman set the stage for the incursion.
BRIG. GEN. QASSIM AL-MOUSSAWI, Iraqi Military Spokesman (through translator):
The troops that entered into Sadr City today are Iraqi army and police forces. The multinational troops have not taken part in this Operation Peace.
Fighting has been going on elsewhere in Iraq, too. In March, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched a major offensive against Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra. After a halting start, Basra has now grown quiet, and the government is asserting more control there.
In a third Iraqi city, Mosul, joint Iraqi-American operations also continue. The target there is al-Qaida in Iraq, the Iraqi-born wing of the terrorist movement.
Today, General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq who's slated to take over Central Command, told a Senate confirmation panel the offensives were having an impact.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, Commander, U.S. Forces in Iraq: Recent operations in Basra, Mosul, and now Sadr City have contributed significantly to the reduction in violence. And Prime Minister Maliki, his government, the Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi people, in addition to our troopers, deserve considerable credit for the positive developments since Ambassador Crocker and I testified a month-and-a-half ago.
The inability of the Iraqi military and police forces to mount operations without major American assistance has blocked an American troop drawdown.
General Ray Odierno, whose confirmation to replace Petraeus was also pending today, said the Iraqi performance in those areas was an encouraging development.
LT. GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, Former Commander, Multi-National Corps-Iraq:
What we've seen consistently over the last 12 to 14 months is an improvement in the command and control, the ability of the Iraqi — they're learning. They're starting to understand the command and control at brigade, battalion, company level.
We've seen significant improvements in that, in their ability to do some planning. Of course, the issue always becomes capacity, and we still have to work on their full capacity to do this across the entire force.