By Joe Kay
26 April 2008
The United States military’s brutal offensive in Sadr City continued this week, with overnight raids killing dozens of people, including many civilians. The US offensive against the impoverished Baghdad neighborhood of 2 million people is entering its second month.
The direct target of US operations in Sadr City is the Mahdi Army militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr’s followers are drawn from the largely working class Shiite population in Sadr City. He also has substantial support in southern Iraq, including Basra. The recent wave of violence in Iraq was triggered last month, when the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched an offensive, backed by the US, against Sadr’s forces in Basra.
According to media reports, the US military killed at least 11 people in Sadr City on Thursday night, and wounded another 74. “Criminals” have replaced “terrorists” as the label affixed by the US military to those it has slaughtered, but many are ordinary civilians. According to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP), a Sadr City medic “said the dead included four old men, two women and a child” and that women and children were among the wounded.
The US military is employing helicopters armed with Hellfire rocket missiles to terrorize the population of Sadr City and target anyone it claims may be preparing rockets or roadside bombs.
According to figures tabulated by AFP from reports by the Iraqi government and the US military, at least 383 people have been killed in Sadr City over the past month. This figure, however, substantially underestimates the real death toll, since it is based only on official reports.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has reported that the main market in Sadr City has been severely damaged in the fighting, exacerbating food and water shortages. Several hospitals have also run out of supplies while attempting to treat the wounded.
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