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April 04, 2008

US Troops Push Into Sadr City

Second front:

U.S. forces are pushing Shiite militias farther from the Green Zone in an attempt to put the area out of range for rockets and mortars that have recently pounded the diplomatic and government enclave.

The strategy, which targets the southern outskirts of the Shiite district of Sadr City, began as part of a wider crackdown on armed Shiite groups that left Iraqi leaders in disarray after strong resistance and protests from the powerful Mahdi Army militia.

But for American commanders, the showdowns offered an opportunity to move against the launch sites, known as "rocket boxes," which soldiers previously had not reached through the teeming Sadr City streets.

U.S. troops reinforced positions on the edges of Sadr City , an 8-square-mile slum with about 2.5 million people , and have battled their way into suspected launch sites.

"We've seized the 'rocket boxes' and pushed them north," said Col. John Hort, commander of the Third Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

The 107 mm rockets typically used by the militiamen could hit the Green Zone if fired from the southern edges of Sadr City, about 3.5 miles northeast of the zone. The rockets can be launched from mobile platforms. Mortars, too, can be done in a fire-and-hide style.

Militants used a few 122 mm rockets, which can be fired from far deeper inside Sadr City where there is no American presence, but they seem to have few of those weapons.

Trying to stop such attacks has "driven us mad," Hort said.

Thanks to CJ.

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posted by Ace at 07:40 PM

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