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Iran Press TV

Iraq's Sadr loyalists withdraw from Baghdad neighborhoods

Iran Press TV

Thu May 19, 2016 7:40AM

Fighters loyal to prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have withdrawn from several neighborhoods across Baghdad where they were deployed following a spate of deadly bombings.

Witnesses said Sadr's Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Brigades, pulled out of the streets of Baghdad's northeastern district of Sadr City early on Wednesday.

The cleric "ordered that no arm be displayed in public, avoid friction with the security forces and avoid being dragged into violence," an aide close to Sadr said on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, Sadr criticized the Iraqi government for security failures following a string of bombings in and around Baghdad, which have killed more than 200 people over the past week.

The attacks "are the clearest evidence that your government has become unable to protect and provide you with security," the powerful Iraqi cleric said in a statement.

Following the attack, hundreds of fighters loyal to Sadr were reportedly deployed in Sadr City and five other Shia-dominated areas, which have borne the brunt of the recent violence.

Bomb kills nine Iraqi soldiers

On Wednesday, nine Iraqi soldiers were killed and as many others were wounded when a booby-trapped house blew up in the town of Latifiyah, about 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.

Two Iraqi military sources said an army unit was responding to intelligence on a possible meeting of senior Daesh operatives at the house, when the explosion took place.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq says a total of 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 others injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in April.

According to the UN mission, the number of civilian fatalities stood at 410. Violence also claimed the lives of 331 members of the Iraqi security forces.

A great portion of the fatalities was recorded in Baghdad, where 232 civilians were killed.

Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh Takfiris launched an offensive in the country in June 2014, and took control of portions of Iraqi territory.

The militants have been committing crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in Iraq, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and others.

Iraqi army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units are fighting to win back militant-held regions in joint operations.

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