Monday, April 05, 2004

It's still hard to find comprehensive news about what is happening right now in Iraq, but here's another piece of the puzzle.

US helicopters fire on Sadr supporters in Baghdad
April 5, 2004 - 11:44PM

US Apache helicopters sprayed fire on the private army of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during fierce battles today in the western Baghdad district of Al-Showla, witnesses and an AFP correspondent said.

"Two Apaches opened fire on armed members of the Mehdi Army," said Showla resident Abbas Amid.

The fighting erupted when five trucks of US soldiers and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) tried to enter the district and were attacked by Sadr supporters, Amid said.

Coming under fire, the ICDC, a paramilitary force trained by the Americans, turned on the US soldiers and started to shoot at them, according to Amid.

The soldiers fled their vehicles and headed for cover and then began to battle both the Mehdi Army and the ICDC members, he said. Their vehicles were set ablaze.

Heavy gunfire rattled the district and columns of black smoke billowed into the sky.

Burning tyres and tree trunks were used to barricade the neighbourhood, where young men toting clubs and carrying light weapons patrolled the streets.

But 16 US Humvees all-terrain vehicles, backed by two tanks, rolled into Showla, the AFP correspondent said.

I got this from Mark A. R. Kleiman, who says (among other things):

As far as I can tell, there's only one source for this so far, a story from Agence France Press printed in the Sydney Morning Herald. (I picked it up from Atrios, who had it from Billmon,who had it from Unfair Witness.) Can anyone confirm or disconfirm?

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