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Mounting anger focuses on Prime Minister al-Maliki as fighting spreads across sections of Iraq

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Basra battle spreads

ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Clashes between Iraqi and US troops and Mahdi Army fighters continued on Thursday in Baghdad’s main Shiite district of Sadr City. US helicopters pounded the area with rockets after mortar rounds slammed into a nearby US military base in al-Rustamiyah. The same time, Shiite fighters continued to hammer the US-protected Green Zone in central Baghdad for the fourth day in a row. According to the BBC, one US official was reported killed in a rocket attack. In the old port city of Basra, armed police deployed in force on streets that were nearly empty. The relative calm followed several days of fighting between Iraqi security forces and fighters loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. On Thursday, tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets across the country to protest the government crackdown. Demonstrators carried signs calling Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki the new dictator and demanded his government resign. Al-Maliki has warned fighters in al-Basra to surrender their weapons by Friday or face even harsher measures. Clashes between security forces and Shiite militia fighters has spread throughout the south of the country and Baghdad ahead of the Friday deadline.


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