Sadr City

Sadr City

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Sadr City is a suburb district of the city of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. It was built in 1959 by Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Iraq
The Prime Minister of Iraq is Iraq's head of government. Prime Minister was originally an appointed office, subsidiary to the head of state, and the nominal leader of the Iraqi parliament. Under the newly adopted constitution the Prime Minister is to be the country's active executive authority...

 Abdul Karim Qassim and later unofficially renamed Sadr City after deceased Shia leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr , often referred to as Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr which is his father's name, was a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a cleric of the rank of Grand Ayatollah. He called for government reform and the release of detained Shi'a leaders...

.

Sadr City (or more accurately Thawra District) is one of nine administrative districts in Baghdad
Administrative districts in Baghdad
There are nine administrative districts in the city of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, that correspond to the nine district advisory councils. The Baghdad Security Plan used these nine districts as the nine security districts....

. A public housing project neglected by Saddam Hussein, Sadr City holds more than 3 millions Shiite residents.

History



Sadr City was built in Iraq in 1959 by Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim in response to grave housing shortages in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. At the time named Revolution City , it provided housing for Baghdad's urban poor, many of whom had come from the countryside and who had until then lived in appalling conditions. It quickly became a stronghold of the Iraqi Communist Party
Iraqi Communist Party
Since its foundation in 1934, the Iraqi Communist Party has dominated the left in Iraqi politics. It played a fundamental role in shaping the political history of Iraq between its foundation and the 1970s. The Party was involved in many of the most important national uprisings and demonstrations...

, and resistance to the Baathist
Baath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

-led coup of 1963 was strong there.

In 1982, following the Baath Party coup, the district was renamed Saddam City, in honor of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, the Baath Party leader. After the foreign occupation of Baghdad
2003 invasion of Baghdad
The Battle of Baghdad also known as the Fall of Baghdad was a military invasion of Baghdad that took place in early April 2003, as part of the invasion of Iraq....

 in April 2003, the district was unofficially renamed Sadr City after deceased shiite leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr , often referred to as Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr which is his father's name, was a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a cleric of the rank of Grand Ayatollah. He called for government reform and the release of detained Shi'a leaders...

.

2003


In April, 2003, the US Army 2d Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment established their headquarters at the abandoned Sumer cigarette factory located on the Eastern side of Sadr City. In honor of the history of the factory, the military named their new camp Camp Marlboro
Camp Marlboro
Camp Marlboro is a U.S. Military Camp in Sadr City, Baghdad. It was built to facilitate military and peacekeeping operations in the densely populated Shia ghetto....

. In addition to the 800 Soldiers in the Squadron, the camp housed 120 military police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 of the 549th Military Police Company, 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company of the 2-37th Armored Regiment (2-37 AR), two six man teams of Civil Affairs Soldiers from the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion and the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion
411th Civil Affairs Battalion (United States)
411th Civil Affairs Battalion is a civil affairs unit of the United States Army. It is based at Danbury, Connecticut. The unit includes Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Headquarters Companies, all located in Danbury...

, and two three man PSYOP teams from 361st PSYOP Company. The Crusader Company of 2-37 Armor later replaced the 3rd platoon as they were sent to rejoin their company at Camp War Eagle.
During the fall and winter of 2003, American forces focused on rebuilding civilian infrastructure and training local leaders in democracy. District and neighborhood councils were established, giving the residents of Sadr City representation in the new Iraqi government. The municipal building became the centerpiece of the reconstruction effort, and it was the site of a forward outpost of American soldiers that met daily with council members and citizens. Progress was slow due to escalating tensions and violence, and attacks against the American military increased significantly in late 2003.

On November 9, 2003, a violent confrontation erupted between the chairman of the District Council, elements of the 2d ACR, and a team from the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. The chairman refused to surrender a pistol during security screening and became violent, forcing an American soldier to shoot the chairman in self-defense. The death of the chairman caused a serious setback to reconstruction efforts and led to increased violence.

On December 17, 2003, the Mahdi Army
Mahdi Army
The Mahdi Army, also known as the Mahdi Militia or Jaish al-Mahdi , was an Iraqi paramilitary force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June 2003....

 ambushed an American convoy, inflicting multiple casualties. The convoy, made up of vehicles from the 2d ACR and the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, was attacked with several improvised explosive devices and automatic weapons fire from surrounding rooftops. The Mahdi Army attempted to capture several soldiers during the ambush, but they were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to obtain hostages.

2004



In late March, 2004, Task Force Lancer, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Gary Volesky arrived at Camp War Eagle
Camp War Eagle
Camp War Eagle was the name of the United States Army camp located at the Northeast corner of the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City. It was established in May 2003 by 1st Squadron 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and B Company 2nd Battalion 37th Armor Regiment which is an element of 1st Brigade, 1st...

 on the north-east corner of Sadr City, to assume responsibility for the governance and security of Sadr City. Task Force Lancer consisted primarily of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment from the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division under the command of Colonel Robert B. Abrams.

On April 4, 2004 the Mahdi Army ambushed a U.S. Army patrol in Sadr City, killing eight American soldiers, and wounding 57 more. This sparked fierce urban fighting between the Mahdi Army and newly arrived soldiers of the B company 20th Engineer Batallion 2-5 , 2-8 and 1-12 CAV of the 1st Cavalry Division (1CD); alongside the just relieved 2-37 AR of the 1st Armored Division.

In late 2004 the Mahdi Army enacted a cease-fire with U.S. troops, and offered to help repair and rebuild the city's main infrastructure which was leaving millions without electricity, water or sewage. On October 10, Camp Marlboro was hit by three mortars launched from within the city, which saw the U.S. beef up security and attach an additional 28 tanks and 14 Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the camp. The following day, on October 11, the Weapons Handover Program began in the city, which was designed to purchase weapons from militants.

2005


On May 15, 2005 the bodies of 13 Iraqis were discovered in a shallow grave, each blindfolded, tied and shot multiple times in the back of the head. They had been hastily buried in a vacant lot. On May 18, gunmen shot and killed Ali Mutib Sakr, a Transport Ministry driver. On May 23, a car bomb exploded outside a crowded restaurant, killing eight Iraqis and wounding an additional 89. On March 12 three car bombs exploded, killing thirty-five people. On July 1 a car bomb exploded in an open-air market killing 77 and wounding 96.

In August 2005 the Iraqi government and the U.S. Army locked down Sadr City for three days to search houses for hostages and death squads. Some hostages were found and freed. Multiple death squad leaders were arrested. In these three days, the number of murders in Baghdad reached the lowest level ever comparing to the average of the previous months of the U.S.-led war.

2006


On October 24, 2006, the U.S. Army locked down Sadr City while searching for a kidnapped U.S. soldier. During the lock down, deaths dropped by 50%. When Prime Minister al-Maliki demanded the end of the blockade, the murder rate returned to previous levels.

On November 23, 2006, a series of car bombs exploded, followed by mortar attacks, which killed at least 215 people. See 23 November 2006 Sadr City bombings
23 November 2006 Sadr City bombings
The 2006 Sadr City bombings were a series of car bombs and mortar attacks in Iraq that began on 23 November at 15:10 Baghdad time and ended at 15:55...

 for further details.

2008 fighting


In March 2008, during the Battle of Basra
Battle of Basra (2008)
The Battle of Basra began on March 25, 2008, when the Iraqi Army launched an operation to drive the Mahdi Army militia out of the southern Iraqi city of Basra...

, clashes erupted in Sadr City between the U.S. and the Mahdi Army
Mahdi Army
The Mahdi Army, also known as the Mahdi Militia or Jaish al-Mahdi , was an Iraqi paramilitary force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June 2003....

. At that time, Sadr City was secured with the use of Strykers from the 1st Squadron, 2d Stryker
Stryker
The IAV Stryker is a family of eight-wheeled, 4-wheel-drive , armored fighting vehicles derived from the Canadian LAV III and produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, in use by the United States Army. The vehicle is named for two American servicemen who posthumously received the Medal of Honor:...

 Cavalry Regiment led by LTC Daniel Barnett. The fighting grew so intense that armored vehicles as well as M2A3 Bradley IFV and M1A1/2 Abrams MBT were called in for assistance. The Mahdi Army relied heavily in the use of improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s allegedly smuggled from Iran and engaged U.S forces with sniper fire and intense small arms engagements in the heavily congested urban area. The U.S. launched at least one air strike, killing 10 reported militants. As of March 29, 2008, about 75 Iraqis have been killed and 500 injured. The Iraq Health Ministry claims these are all civilians, but the U.S. disputes this.

The Mahdi Army intensified rocket attacks on the Green Zone
Green Zone
The Green Zone is the most common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. It is a area of central Baghdad, Iraq, that was the governmental center of the Coalition Provisional Authority and remains the center of the international presence in the city...

 and other U.S. bases, killing at least three American soldiers and several civilians. On April 6 Iraqi and U.S. forces moved into the southern third of Sadr City to prevent rocket and mortar fire being launched from the area. 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment then took control of southern Sadr City and hosted Charlie Company, 1-68 Armor, Bravo Company, 1-14 Infantry and Delta Company, 4-64 Armor along with U.S. combat engineers from the 3rd Brigade Heavy Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division who began construction of a concrete barrier along Al-Quds street to seal the southern third of the city off and allow reconstruction to take place. On May 1, 2008, D/4-64 and B/1-14 killed 28 Mahdi Fighters just north of the concrete barrier. Over the next month, the Mahdi Army launched a number of attacks on the troops building the barrier, but sustained heavy losses. Heavy Engineer support for building the wall was provided by 821st Horizontal Engineer Company, 769th Eng. Bn., 35th Eng. Bde. At the beginning of May soldiers from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division
10th Mountain Division
The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. It is a subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the only division-sized element of the U.S. Army to specialize in fighting under harsh terrain and weather conditions...

 placed additional barriers along the eastern boundary of Sadr City to isolate the militants' stronghold, but met heavy resistance as Mahdi Fighters attacked the soldiers with RPGs, IEDs, and small arms fire. The Mahdi fighters were able to destroy two HMMWVs and two MRAP
MRAP
MRAP stands for Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples , and is an anti-racist French NGO, created in 1949...

s, however, the unit responded with combined air and ground strikes and used tanks, attack helicopters, and heavy weapons to repel the assault while claiming the deaths of nearly 30 militants.

On May 10, a ceasefire was ordered by Muqtada Al-Sadr
Muqtada al-Sadr
Sayyid Muqtadā al-Ṣadr is an Iraqi Islamic political leader.Along with Ali al-Sistani and Ammar al-Hakim of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Sadr is one of the most influential religious and political figures in the country not holding any official title in the Iraqi government.-Titles:He is...

, allowing Iraqi troops into all of Sadr City. On May 20, in an entirely Iraqi-planned and executed operation, six battalions of Iraqi troops, including troops from the 1st (Quick Reaction Force) division stationed in Al-Anbar and armored forces from the 9th Division based in Taji, operating without the involvement of U.S. ground forces, pushed deep into Sadr City. The Iraqi Security Forces met little resistance in moving through Sadr City and took up positions formerly occupied by the Mahdi Army, including the Imam Ali and Al-Sadr hospitals and Al-Sadr's political office. Sadr City then became the main base for Shi'a Insurgent group Kata'ib Hezbollah
Kata'ib Hezbollah
Kata'ib Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades is a Shi'a Iraqi Insurgent group which has been active 4 months before the beginning of the Iraq War , not to be confused with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. It is said to be an offshoot of the "Special Groups", which are the Iranian backed elements...

, an offshoot of the Mahdi Army.

Recent history


After a year of relative calm, Sadr City was struck
24 June 2009 Baghdad bombing
The 24 June 2009 Baghdad bombing was one of the bombings in Iraq and a bombing that occurred in the Muraidi Market of the Sadr City area of Baghdad, Iraq. At least 69 people were killed and 150 others injured. An official said that the explosion was caused by a bomb hidden underneath a motorised...

 by a massive bomb blast on June 24, 2009 when a bomb-laden vegetable cart or motorcycle was detonated in the Muraidi Market of the town, killing at least 69 civilians and wounding over 150.

Voters in Sadr City allowed the Iraqi National Alliance to make huge gains in provincial elections in 2009 and parliamentary elections in 2010.

See also




External links