Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

Militia split over Sadr City cease-fire

BAGHDAD — An angry Shiite militia commander complained Wednesday that "we were duped" into accepting a cease-fire in Sadr City — remarks that point to a potentially damaging rift within the movement of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The May 11 truce ended seven weeks of fierce fighting in Baghdad between U.S. and Iraqi forces and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which held nearly complete control of the Sadr City district.

Iraqi soldiers now have moved into most parts of Sadr City with little resistance. But the objections raised by the commander highlight apparent dissent by some Mahdi Army leaders.

A split among Sadr's followers — between those favoring a more militant path and others seeking compromise with Iraq's government — could threaten the relative calm in Baghdad and re-ignite Shiite-on-Shiite violence across Iraq's oil-rich south.

The commander, speaking to tribal sheiks and lawmakers loyal to Sadr, said that "we were duped and deceived" by the truce. "They are arresting many of us now."

The group had gathered in Sadr's main Baghdad office to discuss how to respond to what they consider cease-fire "violations" by Iraqi troops, such as arrests and house searches.

Some in the audience, however, took issue with the views of the commander, whose name was not made public for security reasons.

"You can be the winner without a military victory," said Falah Hassan Shanshal, a prominent Sadrist and one of two lawmakers who attended the meeting in Sadr City, home to about 2.5-million Shiites.

"We had to bow before the storm because it was uprooting everything and everyone standing in its path," he said.

Shanshal was referring to the punishing attacks by U.S. and Iraqi forces that killed and wounded hundreds and left parts of Sadr City in ruins.

Sadr, who has been in Iran for at least a year, supported the Sadr City cease-fire. But signs of opposition have been growing within the militia ranks.

Last week, two Mahdi Army commanders said militiamen were divided over whether the cease-fire was in their interest.

Comments

Updated: 10 minutes ago
Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

CLEARWATER — A simmering feud between Tampa and the regional water authority avoided boiling over Monday, but little was resolved.At a Tampa Bay Water meeting, board members requested Tampa work with the agency on the city’s plan to convert tens of m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man sought in sexual assault of woman, 71, in New Port Richey

Man sought in sexual assault of woman, 71, in New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputies are searching for a man who they said broke into a home and raped a 71-year-old woman on Monday.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was checking on a home at 7437 Heather St. for the homeowner at about 8:15 a.m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Puerto RicoJudge grants $300M loan for power companyA federal judge on Monday approved a $300 million loan for Puerto Rico’s power company that officials say will help keep the troubled agency operating until late March. The judge had originally reje...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Grief-filled funerals also can be cathartic

Grief-filled funerals also can be cathartic

PARKLAND — Each funeral for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre is different, yet the same: the mourning relatives, teens walking in clutches wearing black, politicians paying their respects, media cameras pointing at the entran...
Updated: 1 hour ago

U.S. input unlikely on climate rule book

VIENNA — The climate rule book being drafted to keep a lid on Earth’s rising temperatures should be finished by the end of the year — with or without the U.S. government’s help.Countries that ratified the Paris climate agreement will meet in December...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

ST. PETERSBURG — Speaking in front of a small crowd gathered on the front lawn of the city’s main library, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday that the facility will get a $6 million renovation and be renamed in honor of President Barack Obama.The a...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Pa. Supreme Court redraws districts

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court drew new boundaries for the state’s congressional districts on Monday, releasing a map that, if it stands, could play a significant role in Democratic Party efforts to gain control of the House of Representatives in the...
Updated: 3 hours ago