Dozens killed in Baghdad fighting

Government forces needed to call in US support to take on Sunni fighters.

    Iraqi soldiers guard a position on a bridge
    in central Baghdad [AFP] 

    Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said the operation aimed to take control of an area known as a stronghold of Sunni fighters opposed to the mainly Shia government.
     
    "God willing, Haifa Street will never threaten the Iraqi people again," he said.
     
    Iraqis summon US support
     
    Iraqi troops initally tried to tackle the fighters by themselves, but soon called on the US for reinforcements.
     
    US jets, helicopters and extra troops who arrived on the scene were soon engaged in heavy fighting and under fire from rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
     
    After hours of fierce fighting, Iraqi government and US troops were said to be in control of most of Haifa Street.
     
    Iraq's defence ministry said its troops captured 21 people, including seven Syrians, in the area.
     
    Saddam's followers
     
     
    "This would never have happened were it not for some groups who provided safe havens for these terrorists," he said. "And as everyone knows, the former Baathists provided safe haven and logistics for them to destabilise Iraq."
     
    The raid on Haifa Street came after police found the bodies of 27 Shias who had been seized and shot in the area on Saturday.
     
    Officials have said that more than 130 people have died there since Saturday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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