VIDEO – Iraq, Baghdad/Sadr City - Since the last few years Sadr City was the center of many battles between the Mahdi Army and the US military. Many homes, shops, and other buildings were destroyed in the first battles there in 2005, the conflict took place between the US forces and the Mahdi Army after a statement was released by Muqtada Al-Sadr commanding his followers to fight the "occupation forces" in order to liberate Iraq from the US forces.
Another conflict took place in the year 2006 in Najaf were the Iraqi National Guard was fighting the Mahdi Army’s militias. The US forces assisted the Iraqi National Guard with this battle in Najaf, and this influenced many of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s forces based in Sadr City to fight the US forces and the Iraqi National Guard.
The battle moved from primarily in Najaf to Sadr City, and more than 100 people were killed in the battles in Najaf and Sadr City. At this time, Muqtada Al-Sadr reached an agreement with the Iraqi government to arrange a ceasefire between the Mahdi Army and the US and Iraqi forces in order to stop what many expected to be certainly a bloodbath.
Moqtada released a statement in early 2007 commanding all the Mahdi Army fighters to cease fighting the Iraqi forces and consider them as an equal part of Iraq to those who are loyal to the Mahdi Army and Muqtada Al-Sadr.
There were ongoing minor and sometimes major clashes and operations in Sadr City throughout 2007 and leading up to the Spring of 2008, when a major operation was begun in Sadr City, to eliminate the influence and weapons of suspected Mahdi Army militants. In May 2008 the Iraqi National Guard were finally able to enter Sadr City, pushing deep into the district and taking control of the area. Alive in Baghdad’s newest correspondent Ali Le’abi was with them, and interviewed a number of residents about their experience of the confrontation with US and Iraqi forces.