COMMENTS: Outskirt Skirmish

Last week, as fighting flared between Iraqi government troops and Shiite militias in Basra, things also heated up in Baghdad, CBS' Lara Logan pointed out. A total of 132 mortar and rocket attacks were launched on the "heavily protected" Green Zone. Logan showed us one rocket launch site as seen from the scope of a USArmy Apache helicopter as it lined up a Hellfire missile salvo. Logan explained that most of the mortars originate from Shiite neighborhoods but US troops have "stopped short of going deep into the heart of Sadr City where the militias are dug in amongst millions of people. A bloody street fight there could cost thousands of innocent lives and throw the capital into chaos." Instead a USArmy Stryker regiment contented itself with closing down a rocket launching site on Sadr City's outskirts. "There are not enough US soldiers to hold this position alone. Iraqi reinforcements are needed," she warned, but the promised local back-up failed to materialize.

As she did last week when reporting on the Basra fighting as a "proxy war" between the United States and Iran, Logan decided to frame this Baghdad skirmish in a larger geostrategic context. She described the Mahdi Army as "Iranian-backed" and its leader, opposition politician Muqtada al-Sadr, as an "anti-American cleric."


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