"The alternative is the continuation of force and clashes until we reach the end, to get rid of the weapons and the gangs who are carrying weapons," he said.
"We can't build a state along with militias."Violence warning
Professor Juan Cole, an expert on Iraq from the University of Michigan, told Al Jazeera that efforts to tackle al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni group, had to some extent succeeded.
"Now Maliki and the American are turning their sights on the other major armed group outside the government," he said.
"There will be a lot of violence if Maliki attempts to eliminate the al-Mahdi army.
"The Sadr movement is a very large social movement, the Mahdi army is to some extent street gangs and young men with guns and you can't crush a thing like that very easily, its organic.
"You can't take a social movement out and shoot it."
Clashes between fighters and US and Iraqi security forces in the predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City have killed more than 900 people, according to Iraqi officials.
"There were 925 martyrs in Sadr City and 2,605 others have been wounded," Tehseen Sheikhly, spokesman for the government's Baghdad security plan, said.Militia crackdown
The fighting in the eastern neighbourhood of the capital began after al-Maliki targeted militias in the southern city of Basra. The crackdown triggered a wave of fighting across Shia areas.
Sheikhly insisted that the offensive in Sadr City "was not targeting any political party or group but armed groups".