'Awakening' group in Baghdad battle

Clashes with anti-al-Qaeda fighters in central Baghdad follow arrest of militia leader.

    Several arrests were made by US and Iraqi forces amid the fighting in Baghdad's Fadel district [AFP]

    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


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    We explore how Salah Ed-Din unified the Muslim states and recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem from the crusaders.