Iraqi army clashes with al-Sadr’s militia

Anyone who hopes for a stable democracy and the rule of law in Iraq realizes that at some point, the Iraqi government will have to confront the lawless Shia militias as well as the Sunni insurgents.

Perhaps the Iraqi armed forces are starting to do that. Unfortunately it may be a bloody process.

In Diwaniyah, about 80 miles south of Baghdad, clashes broke out between the Mahdi Army militia of radical, anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and U.S.-backed Iraqi army soldiers following a raid by Iraqi soldiers in three neighborhoods to root out extremists, news wires reported.

Details of the fighing there were difficult to confirm, but it appeared from reports to be a significant battle and one of the first major skirmishes between the regular troops and the militia.