04/09/2008, 00.00
IRAQ
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Five years after its fall, Baghdad is in chaos again

Today is the fifth anniversary of the entry of U.S. troops into the capital, and a curfew is in place to prevent violence. But the rockets are raining down in Sadr City, and the inhabitants denounce: explosions and gunfire everywhere, security progress seems to vanished in a few weeks.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Baghdad is under curfew on the day that marks the fifth anniversary of the fall of the capital to the American forces. Meanwhile, in Sadr City, the stronghold of the Shiites of radical leader Moqtada al Sadr, fighting continues between the army and the Mahdi militias. Today the news agency Voice of Iraq is reporting the death of at least 5 civilians, and the wounding of 22 more in rocket attacks that have struck the large eastern neighbourhood of the capital. According to the anonymous source cited by the agency, "various houses and civilian properties have been damaged". A curfew has been in effect in Sadr City since the end of March, when the Iraqi army offensive against the al-Sadr militants began.

Baghdad residents tell AsiaNews that for days, large-calibre gudfire has been heard throughout the night, from various parts of the city: "Most of the time no one knows where the rounds fall and how many people are killed; until a month ago we could say that security had improved, but for a few weeks we have again fallen into chaos here".

The commander of the American contingent in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, spoke of the "fluid" situation before the Senate foreign relations committee. Today he will report to the House. The general said that he wants to halt troop withdrawals in July, maintaining 140,000 soldiers in the region at that point. President George W. Bush has said that he supports the recommendation. He then added that the greatest threat to stability in Iraq is represented by the "destructive role of Iran", which provides the support of "special groups" for the Shiite radicals.

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