US general in Baghdad says bringing basic services to Sadr City to weaken Sadr and his militia can work this time.
"Tell the mayor – the mayor of Baghdad, the big mayor – tell him we'll be here tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, and we'll be very disappointed if he's not here. The prime minister needs this to happen," he said during a Friday trip to Sadr City. "We gotta get going."
General Hammond is pushing for services – trash pickup, medical care, water, electricity – for a southern slice of the volatile district. It's part of a US plan to win Iraqis away from Moqtada al-Sadr's sway. And they see a window of opportunity as fighting in Mr. Sadr's Baghdad stronghold shows signs of quieting.
While sporadic fighting continued Sunday, clashes with the Mahdi Army calmed after Sadr issued a statement Friday calling for the "patience" of his followers and for an end to bloodshed among Iraqis. He stepped back from his earlier threat of "open war until liberation," saying it was only directed at Iraq's "occupiers."
In the assault on the Shiite enclave, the Americans' original goal was to push Mahdi Army gunmen out of the southernmost section of Sadr City, from where a barrage of rockets and mortars was launched on the Green Zone, home of US and Iraqi offices. The firings from this part of the district have mostly stopped.
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