Iraqi forces deployed in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad under a truce deal have seized a large haul of weapons and bombs in search operations, the US military said yesterday.
Two caches containing 360 assault rifles, 12 sniper rifles, anti-tank mines, flak vests, 100 rocket-propelled grenades and multiple grenade launchers were seized from a mosque and from nearby the building, the military said.
Most of the guns were found in the mosque, it said in a statement.
“Iraqi Army soldiers discovered the third weapons cache in a local hospital in Sadr City,” the statement said. “To date, Operation Peace in Sadr City has seized 38 caches.”
Iraqi troops deployed in the area last week and fanned deep inside the 27km² rectangular-shaped Shiite bastion on the northeast edge of Baghdad without meeting resistance from militants.
The Mehdi Army movement of anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had fought running street battles with US troops for seven weeks since the end of March before the truce halted the violence and cleared the way for the Iraqi army deployment.
Elsewhere in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, weekend searches saw the army detain more than 400 people for questioning.
Sadrists have accused the Iraqi army of violating the truce agreement, but said the Shiite militia will honor the deal, which halted fighting that killed hundreds of people and wounded many more.
The Iraqi deployment dubbed “Operation Peace” took place with the approval of the Sadrists in areas previously regarded as Mehdi Army territory.