Maliki: 'Heavy deployment' of Iraqi forces coming this week in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Iraqi forces will step up their deployment on the streets of Baghdad this week as part of a U.S.-backed offensive against militants, Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday.
The crackdown, which U.S. officials said began last week, is seen as a final attempt to prevent an all-out sectarian war between Iraq's dominant Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs.
While saying the offensive would accelerate at a gradual pace, Maliki said "very soon, this week, will witness a heavy deployment of the security forces from (the Iraqi) police and the army".
U.S. President George W. Bush has promised to send 21,500 more American troops, mostly to Baghdad, to help with the plan. Thousands of Iraqi reinforcements have already arrived from other parts of the country.
Some 85,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers will be available for the offensive when all reinforcements are in place.
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