Iraqi army seizes Mahdi stronghold in Basra

The IA mops up in Basra:

Iraqi soldiers swooped on the Basra stronghold of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday, saying they had seized control of his militia bastion where they suffered an embarrassing setback in late March.

The dawn raid by government troops on the Hayaniya district of the southern oil city was backed by a thunderous bombardment by U.S. warplanes and British artillery.

(Via Hot Air.)

Note to the media: a setback is not the same thing as a defeat.

UPDATE: At the NYT, Iraqi Forces Take Last Basra Areas From Sadr Force.

Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s militia in Basra on Saturday, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad strongly endorsed the Iraqi government’s monthlong military operation against the fighters.

By Saturday evening, Basra was calm, but only after air and artillery strikes by American and British forces cleared the way for Iraqi troops to move into the Hayaniya district and other remaining Mahdi Army militia strongholds and begin house-to house searches, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi troops were meeting little resistance, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad.

Despite the apparent concession of Basra, Mr. Sadr issued defiant words on Saturday night.

You know Sadr is at the end of his rope when both the NYT and Iran throw in the towel.  Defiant words are about all he has left.

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