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Middle East
Iraqi mayor arrested in crackdown
Joint US-Iraqi operation aims to cleanse southern city of Amara of militiamen.
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2008 20:50 GMT
The crackdown on Amara is a joint
US-Iraqi operation [AFP]

The mayor of the southern Iraqi city of Amara has been arrested over his alleged links to a Shia Muslim militia.

Rafa Abdul Jabbar, a member of the Sadr movement loyal to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, and 16 others were arrested on Thursday.

The arrests were part of the joint US-Iraqi Operation Basha'ar al-Salam (Promise of Peace) against Shia militia groups.

Large weapons caches were also discovered after a deadline expired for fighters to surrender their arms or face arrest.

The operation started on Thursday and is ongoing. It involves Iraqi police and soldiers, backed by US troops, going through residential areas to capture militiamen and illegal weapons.

The region has become a centre for arms smuggling and the crackdown on militias is also aimed at ending the widespread illegal movement of cude oil in southern Iraq.

Many militias allegedly gain their funds from the smuggling of crude oil.

However, some analysts say the crackdown has been employed to weaken the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader, who is a rival to Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.

Amara, a city of 350,000 people, has huge numbers of people  living in abject poverty and has long served as a key centre for  support of al-Sadr's anti-US stance and conservative Islamic politics.

Source:
Agencies
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