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Iraq troops take control of Basra militia bastion

20 April, 2008

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BASRA: Iraqi forces took control on Saturday of a district of the southern city of Basra which has seen intense firefights between troops and Shiite militiamen, the interior ministry said.

Iraqi troops entered the northern Hayaniyah district of the city and took control of the area in an operation lasting several hours, ministry spokesman Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf said.

"We launched an operation in the morning. There was some exchange of fire. The operation is now over in Hayaniyah without any strong resistance," Khalaf said.

"Our troops are deployed on the rooftops of tall buildings in the area," he added.

Hayaniyah, a stronghold of fighters loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has seen intense firefights since March 25 when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militiamen in the southern port city.

End.

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