[QODLink]
Middle East
'Awakening' group in Baghdad battle
Clashes with anti-al-Qaeda fighters in central Baghdad follow arrest of militia leader.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2009 05:22 GMT
Several arrests were made by US and Iraqi forces amid the fighting in Baghdad's Fadel district [AFP]

Iraqi and US troops have clashed for a second straight day in Baghdad with so-called Awakening Council fighters opposed to the arrest of a local militia leader.

The fighting in the Fadhil district of the Iraqi capital, in which four people were killed, came after Iraqi forces arrested Adel Mashhadani, the local chief of the Sahwa Council trained and financed by the US and Iraq to battle al-Qaeda fighters.

American troops assisting Iraqi forces on Sunday ordered Sahwa members to surrender their weapons or face reprisals, while Iraqi soldiers blocked access to the area and made several arrests.

"We captured 14 people wanted by Iraqi justice in al-Fadhil district and we found weapons," Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad security spokesman, said.

More than 20 people have also been wounded during the fighting, officials said.

The fighting is the most severe seen in central Baghdad since US and Iraqi forces, aided by Sahwa loyalists, battled against al-Qaeda-linked fighters in 2007.

Civilian casualties

The clashes in Fadhil came after Iraqi forces arrested Mashhadani on Saturday, Iraq's interior ministry said.

Mashhadani was detained over allegations of murder and extortion and "violating the constitution", major general Qasim Atta, Baghdad’s military command spokesman, said.

"We also have information that Mashhadani heads the military branch in Fadel of the [banned] Baath party [of Saddam Hussein, the executed former Iraqi president], Atta said.

Iraqi troops "are not hunting-down the Sahwas but carrying out a search operation for suspects wanted by the judicial authorities and gangsters who are firing on our forces," Atta said.

While Mashhadani helped Iraqi and US troops force al-Qaeda from the Fadhil district, he is accused of turning the area into his own stronghold.

Iraq’s Shia-Muslim-led government, which has in the past expressed concerns over the Sahwa fighters' long-term aims, has said that 20 percent of all Sahwas will be integrated into the Iraqi security forces.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list