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May 20, 2008
Iraqi Troops Enter Sadr City
Iraqi soldiers, without American assistance, are about to take on the worst of the worst in Iraq; the Mahdi Army in their Sadr City stronghold:As you can see, this is a very significant development. If the Iraqi Army can prove itself in that hellhole, it would show that they have made significant strides toward being able to stand on their own against a well armed enemy.
Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers entered the volatile Sadr City district of eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, meeting virtually no resistance from the Shiite militia fighters who in recent weeks have clashed heavily with U.S. and Iraqi troops, Iraqi officials said.
The deployment of hundreds of government troops to the area began before dawn. It was the start of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's long-awaited effort to restore order in the vast Shiite slum, home to scores of militiamen loyal to radical anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The push, dubbed "Operation Peace," was "totally Iraqi planned, led and executed," the U.S. military said in a statement.
There were no reports of clashes during the first day of the operation, which began just over a week after political leaders influential in Sadr City reached a cease-fire agreement with lawmakers of Maliki's party.
The fact that this operation is taking place at all is a sign of political progress as well. Prime Minister Maliki appears to have finally gained a little confidence and is doing what must be done to get his own house in order.
The next review by General Petreaus is in July. It wouldn't surprise me if the General has more cautious words of progress toward the goal of bring more American troops home.