US and Iraqi forces have increased their presence in Baghdad's Sadr City district, a stronghold of the Shi'a Sadrist movement and its Mahdi Army militia, eyewitnesses tell IraqSlogger.
Iraqi forces have fanned out heavily in the district, while American tanks and infantry are also reported to have increased in number over the last few days.
Residents noticed the heavy deployment after Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the Sadrist current, issued a statement last Friday threatening to create a new militia for the purpose of resisting the American presence in Iraq in the even that Iraqi officials sign the draft Status of Forces Agreement which would provide a legal framework for the continuing American presence in the country for the next two years.
A palpable tension has spread among civilians in the district, which has been the site of heavy fighting between militiamen and US and Iraqi forces in the past, in particular heavy fighting earlier this year.
Sources in Sadr City tell IraqSlogger that many civilians in the district are weighing the option of leaving the city temporarily in order to avoid any violence that may occur, and out of fear of arrest campaigns by Iraqi and American forces if conflict erupts.
Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.