Only now the fighting is in the sprawling, densely populated slum that is Mr. Sadr's base of support. That this fight is in Sadr City and not Najaf, is both good and bad for the US, analysts say.
Confronting Sadr's loyalists here removes the complication of fighting in one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam. But it also means the Americans are fighting on the enemy's turf and in the even bigger showcase of Baghdad.
"It's a Hobson's choice. It takes away the symbolism that somehow we're fighting Islam," says Ellen Laipson, an intelligence specialist and president of the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington. "But if the US objective is to demonstrate that we're on an upward trajectory, that's hardly served by having deadly fighting in the capital - where the US has its strongest presence - and where the Allawi government (of Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi) already faces assassination attempts and other challenges."
The accord that broke the standoff in Najaf left the hard realities of opposing political viewpoints to be confronted another day, analysts say.
That "other day" is being tested in Sadr City - named after Sadr's revered late father.
On a trash-piled street deep within the maze of this crumbling neighborhood of several million people, a horse lies dead outside the pockmarked house where neighbors say American planes shot repeatedly early Wednesday morning, wrote Christian Science Monitor.
US forces killed at least six Iraqis in the insurgent bastion of Fallujah overnight as the kidnapping of two Italian aid workers in central Baghdad spurred foreign charity staff to consider leaving Iraq.
Fighter jets and helicopters pounded Fallujah all night after radical militants attacked American positions near the city. The US military said up to 100 militants were killed, but medical sources there reported only six dead and 23 wounded.
The deputy governor of the surrounding Al-Anbar province was later kidnapped from his home by gunmen who shot his son in the chest, the interior ministry said.
The worsening security situation saw the number of American deaths since US forces invaded in March 2003 cross the 1000 mark this week, keeping Iraq firmly on the presidential election campaign agenda in the US, reports Melbourne Herald Sun.
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