Clashes kill 16 on anniversary of Baghdad's fall


Militiamen hold their weapons aloft in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Baghdad, Wednesday, April 9, 2008.

Iraqi men rush wounded children to a hospital in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Baghdad, Wednesday, April 9, 2008.


At least 16 people have died in fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City as officials imposed a vehicle ban to mark the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

Police said seven of victims, including three children, died when projectiles slammed into a house in the slum -- a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Twenty-seven others were injured.

No details are available yet on the other deaths.

On Tuesday, an Iraqi military spokesman said 82 insurgents, 37 soldiers and 36 civilians have died since March 16 as a result of fighting in Sadr City.

The fighting serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing instability five years after U.S. troops moved into Baghdad on April 9, 2003 and ended the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Since then, U.S. forces have battled a Sunni insurgency, Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence and now ongoing battles with Shiite militiamen.

As tensions mounted ahead of the anniversary, officials took precautionary measures and imposed a vehicle ban Wednesday, which was to last from 5 a.m. until midnight.

The move had apparently been intended to stop Shiite fighters from travelling by car, truck or motorcycle through the city.

The ban went ahead even though al-Sadr cancelled a "million-strong" rally to demand an end to the U.S. occupation.

The heavily fortified Green Zone, an area containing diplomatic missions and much of Iraq's government, came under rocket and mortar attack. The U.S. Embassy said there were no immediate reports of Green Zone casualties.

Despite the fighting, ABC News' Miguel Marquez said he's seen a change in attitude from the troops over the last two-and-a-half years.

"When things were going worse for the troops here, morale was lower and they had a harder time believing in what they were doing," Marquez, reporting from Baghdad, told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.

"Now you hear troops talking about how engaged they are in what they're doing, they can see the progress, they can feel that they're making headway."

In early 2007, U.S. President George Bush ordered an increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq, raising it to more than 160,000. Last fall, Bush said a gradual draw-down of troops would take place.

On Tuesday, U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus, the top general in Iraq, said the recent troop surge has suppressed violence there, even though progress is uneven.

Petraeus, speaking to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said while troop levels can be drawn down to the pre-surge level by July, he wants any further withdrawals suspended for 45 days to evaluate the situation, followed by an indeterminate assessment period.

That would leave an estimated 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Is there such a thing as reality anymore?
Clashes kill 16 on anniversary of Baghdad's fall.

That's not possible. Bush told us that violence was down...........

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