CBNNews.com - Despite calls from a radical Shiite cleric for his fighters to stand down, the fortified Green Zone in Iraq came under attack again Monday.
Fighting between Iraqi and Coalition Troops, al-Sadr Followers
Fighting between al-Sadr's followers and Iraqi and coalition troops raged since Tuesday, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began military operations against the group and vowed to remain in Basra until the mission was accomplished.
The battles there sparked violence in other southern cities and in Baghdad.
But military operations in an oil-rich southern city will end within days, a key adviser to Iraq's prime minister said.
"Before the end of this week, the operations will come to an end and al-Maliki will be back to Baghdad," said Sami al-Askari.
Attacks in Green Zone
Despite the relative calm that prevailed in Basra, rockets or mortars again landed in the Green Zone, the area housing the U.S. and British embassies along with much of the Iraqi government.
The U.S. Embassy confirmed the attacks and said no serious injuries were reported. The U.S. military said it had no reports of major damage.
The Green Zone has come under frequent attack since Easter Sunday. At least two Americans working for the U.S. government have died.
The government of al-Maliki, himself a Shiite, welcomed the move by al-Sadr to call off his fighters.
After nearly a week of battling the militia, the Iraqi army had made little headway in Basra and large swaths of the city remain under the Mahdi Army's control.
400 Dead from Fighting
An estimated 400 people have been killed as fighting spread to Baghdad neighborhoods and other southern cities.
A nine-point statement by al-Sadr also called on the government to halt its raids on his followers, indicating that the lull in fighting between his militia and government forces is fragile.
The Sadrists have complained that the government has released few of their followers under a new amnesty law, which they allege has favored Sunnis who have recently joined with the Americans to fight al-Qaeda.
In Basra some supermarkets and stores were open on Monday, but residents said few people were venturing out.
In Baghdad, a citywide curfew was lifted, although a vehicle ban remained on three strongholds of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the capital.
Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold from where many of the mortars and rockets landing in the Green Zone are believed to be launched, was calm, residents said.
Source: The Associated Press