Iraqi forces enter Basra’s ports to maintain security

April 1st, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, April 1 (DPA) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the Iraqi forces to enter ports of the Iraqi city of Basra to maintain security against criminal gangs, media reports said Tuesday. In the late hours of Monday, Iraqi forces entered the ports of Khor al-Zobair and Om al-Kasr, according to al-Maliki’s orders, the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency said.

The move came as part of a security operation launched by al-Maliki to fight illegal militant.

The Iraqi forces are imposing a full security control over the city’s two largest ports.

Meanwhile, al-Maliki has also ordered deputy ministers to further enhance services and facilities for Basra citizens, according to a statement issued by the prime ministry.

Earlier, al-Maliki ordered security forces in Baghdad not to carry out security sweeps and arrests unless they had court warrants, a security official told VOI.

He also ordered security forces to be firm with all those breaking the law and using weapons, General Qassim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad operations, told VOI.

It remains unclear whether the order will apply only to Baghdad or will be extended to other parts of Iraq.

The move came after the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr urged government to stop random arrests of members of his Mahdi Army militia.

Al-Sadr ordered his militiamen to stop fighting government troops in Basra and other Shiite-dominated cities and areas in Baghdad, heralding an end to deadly clashes that erupted last Tuesday.

The truce in Basra is still holding. Normal life is resuming as Iraqi security forces continue to carry out a campaign to disarm militias and crack down on outlaws.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the government would continue a crackdown on militias and criminal gangs.

“The situation in Basra is not easy against a backdrop of power struggles and rivalries. There are armed gangs wreaking havoc in Basra and its ports,” the deputy premier warned.

Iraqi medical sources said that at least 950 civilians were killed and 1200 wounded in violent incidents and clashes since March 2008.

Most of the dead were killed during the clashes between the Iraqi forces and Shiite militias that peaked on March 25 in the Shia cities of Basra, Nasiriyah, Amarah, Hillah, Karbala and Diwaniyah.

In Karbala alone, one of the deadliest incidents left 60 civilians killed and more than 50 others injured March 17, sources said.

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