AMARA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi security forces launched a crackdown on Shi’ite militias in the southern city of Amara on Thursday, the commander of the operation said.
“The operation started this morning,” Major-General Tareq Abdul Wahab told Reuters. He declined to give further details.
Iraqi troops and police have been tightening their grip on the city, a bastion of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia, for days. They have urged militias to hand over medium and heavy weapons, such as rockets and mortars.
The crackdown is the latest stage of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s drive to wrest control of Iraq’s more lawless areas from Shi’ite militiamen and Sunni Arab insurgents.
Police said they had started raiding houses of suspected militants in Amara’s town centre and eastern suburbs. They said they had met no resistance.