This news might be significant or not, and the action is timed around an oil deal with China in the area, but provides a glimpse perhaps of how Sadr forces have used the time of reduced violence. The militias in Anbar have done the same.
Violence erupted once again in central and southern Iraq as heavily armed Shiite militia groups battle with police and army over control of residential quarters.
The most ferocious clashes are reported to be taking place in the Province of Wasit of which the city of Kut is the capital.
Police sources in Kut say the Mahdi Army, the military army of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has driven police forces from city.
The clashes follow orders from Sadr to permit his militias to carry arms and defend themselves. This is the first breach of the six-month truce he and U.S. commanders had agreed upon.
So far the fighting has involved his militias and Iraqi forces. But the latest clashes in Kut prove that Iraqi troops are no match for Sadr’s heavily armed militia.
Police and security forces have fled the city and are reported to be regrouping for a counter attack.
Iraqi troops have asked for reinforcements but it is not clear whether U.S. occupation troops will interfere.
Update: Today’s news