The U.S. military says a series of 52 operations over 45 days led to the capture of some 600 militants and 16 leaders of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. With some estimates placing the size of the Shiite militia at 60,000, that leaves only 59,384 to go.
The military said five of the Mehdi Army leaders were detained in the pro-Sadr bastion, Sadr City. One senior figure was killed in a raid.
“The detainees are responsible for attacks against the government of Iraq, Iraqi citizens and coalition forces,” the US military said.
“Criminal activities by these individuals propagated instability within Iraq and their removal from the social structure is a critical start to providing the Iraqi populace with a safe and stable environment.”
In addition, 33 Sunni extremist cell leaders were detained in Baghdad, the statement said.
The statement said they were “responsible for foreign fighter facilitation, car bomb facilitation, and propaganda operations”.
Correspondents say the Mehdi Army has up to 60,000 fighters.
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