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Iraqi forces start second stage of security crackdown in S Iraq
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11:27, June 22, 2008

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Iraqi security forces started Saturday its second stage of ongoing security operation in Maysan province, security sources said.

"Our troops embarked today a new wave of raids and search operations as part of a second stage of Operation Basha'er al-Salam (or Promise of Peace) in eastern side of the Tigris River in Maysan province," Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf, spokesman of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told reporters.

He said the operation, which started on Thursday, was "successful and has met little resistance" from Shiite militiamen and gangsters.

"We have cleared most of the areas in Maysan province, including its capital city of Amara," Khalaf said.

Khalaf said the Iraqi security forces captured some 16 wanted people and seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition during search operations.

Acting on intelligence tip-off, the Iraqi security forces seized and dismantled a workshop for manufacturing magnetic bombs in the province.

On the first day of the operation, the Iraqi security forces detained Rafa Abdul Jabbar, deputy governor of the province and mayor of its capital Amara, for allegedly aiding Shiite militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, according to a source from Sadr office in Maysan.

On Thursday, Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. troops launched a massive operation aimed at hunting militiamen and illegal weapons in the southeastern province.

A similar crackdown in the southern oil hub of Basra in March sparked fierce fighting of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia there and in the Baghdad district of Sadr City.


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