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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi forces mass outside southern city of Amara

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Baghdad, June 16, IRNA
Iraq-Military Operation
In an operation with military and political objectives, the Iraqi Army continued to assemble troops in and around the southern city of Amara on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki offered an amnesty to militants in the city who were willing to surrender, and he also offered to buy back heavy weapons from militia fighters.

Similar offers in the past few months have presaged military operations against Shia or Sunni militias in Basra, the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

Amara is the capital of Maysan Province, the only province in Iraq where the local government is run by politicians aligned with Sadr.

On Sunday, a senior aide to Sadr said that candidates supporting Sadr would run in the fall elections, but as independents or with other political parties, rather than under the cleric's banner.

The government of Maliki also seemed to have significant political calculations in apparently selecting Amara as the site of its next military operation.

Haider Karim, a 35-year-old taxi driver, told International Herald Tribune that civilians would bear the brunt of a military operation because militia members were already gone.

"The security forces must follow these criminals wherever they go because they terrified innocent people," he said.

"We don't want to be terrified again by the warplanes and troops."

Maliki gave militias in Amara three days to take advantage of his amnesty offer and to surrender rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars, rockets and other heavy weapons.

He said the government would "give the outlaws and the members of the organized crime groups a last chance to review their stance." Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sadr's movement said that it would take part in the provincial elections, but did not plan to run a slate of candidates.

"We will participate in the next elections, but there is no Sadrist list," said Luaa Smaisem, the spokesman.

"We will participate as individuals. Also, we will support a lot of independent nominations from another list."


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