Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baghdad sweep through Shia neighborhood yields little

Thousands of U.S. troops swept house-to-house through mostly Shiite areas near a militia stronghold Wednesday in the opening phase of the long-awaited Baghdad security crackdown.

The clearing operation began as Iraqi forces set up new checkpoints across the city of 6 million people, snarling traffic and forcing Iraqis to stream across bridges on foot.

The neighborhoods targeted by the Americans are north of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City, which had been off-limits until Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lifted his protection of them.

Some 2,500-3,000 troops — or an entire Stryker brigade — fanned out in the area, meeting with little resistance from the Iraqis who gathered on the street as they moved into houses, which ranged from squat structures with kitchens littered with dirty pots and pans to mansions with tall windows and spiral staircases.

Soldiers even teased one young girl about her music taste after they found her doing homework on a couch, wearing white and pink socks with a poster of Shakira on the wall.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle