Iraq sacks 1,300 troops over Shiite crackdown
Yahoo News/AFP
April 13, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq has dismissed 1,300 policemen and soldiers for failing to perform their duties during a crackdown on Shiite militiamen in the south of the country, an official said on Sunday.

"Those people did not do their duties in Basra and Kut," interior ministry spokesman Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf said referring to the southern and central cities.

"There were many complaints against them. They were part of these operations but they did not perform the duties they were supposed to," he told AFP by telephone from Basra.

Hundreds of Iraqi troops and police are reported to have either deserted or joined the other side during a government offensive against Shiite militias in Basra that began March 25.

The crackdown triggered violence in other Shiite regions of Iraq, including Baghdad, resulting in at least 700 people killed, according to the United Nations.

Fighting has continued in Baghdad's Sadr City, the bastion of the Mahdi Army militia of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Original Text