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Diwaniya Reinforcements Make New HQ
Joint Force Digs in near Mahdi Army Stronghold; Another Sadrist Arrested
10/24/2007 8:52 PM ET
Diwaniya from space.
Google Earth image.
Diwaniya from space.

A joint US-Iraqi contingent sent to a restive southern Iraqi city as reinforcement has taken up position in a sports stadium in the center of town, near a major militia stronghold, according to Iraqi media reports.

Security sources in Diwaniya told Aswat al-Iraq that Iraqi police and US forces had taken up positions in the al-Jumhouri Stadium in the center of the city.

A large force of the Iraqi Army supported by American forces took as their headquarters the al-Jumhouri Sports Stadium on Wednesday afternoon," noting that the stadium is located near Salim Street "known as a Mahdi Army stronghold" in the center of the city, the agency reports in Arabic.

The source did not give further details about the forces involved.

American and Iraqi reinforcements arrived in the city beginning on Sunday, another security source told the Iraqi agency, arriving at a joint coordination center in the Iskan district of the city where they joined Polish forces operating in the area.

The reinforcements are part of "major operations" by Iraqi police and military forces, with MNF support, targeting wanted militants and criminals "in restive areas outside the control of the state in Diwaniya."

MNF forces have been stationed in Iskan district of Diwaniya city since mid-September when a security plan was launched for the province.

Also on Wednesday Iraqi emergency forces detained another leader in the Sadrist current, arresting Sulaiman al-Idami after raiding his house outside the city of Diwaniya, agencies report.

Al-Idami is an official in the Sadrist offices' disengagement committee. He is one of several officials associated with the current loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shi'a cleric, to be arrested in recent days in Diwaniya.

On Tuesday, a Sadrist spokesman accused the local authorities of torturing detainees as the body of one arrested Sadrist official was recovered after three days in custody.

Diwaniya is located 110 miles south of Baghdad.

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