Baghdad clashes leave 400 dead

More than 400 people have been killed in fighting over the last month between Shia gunmen and U.S. and Iraqi forces, hospital officials in Baghdad say.

Source: BBC
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The Sadr City district of the Iraqi capital has seen most of the fighting as the government tries to disarm members of Shia militias.

Two U.S. soldiers have died in the latest Baghdad clashes, the U.S. military said.

April has been the most lethal month for U.S. troops in Iraq, with 46 deaths, since September, when 65 soldiers died.

The US military said both soldiers died in the north-west of the city on Tuesday night in separate attacks.

One soldier was killed when he came under small-arms fire, the other died when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

The casualties came as U.S. and Iraqi forces engage militants loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr in intensive fighting in Baghdad.

The clashes flared up on Sunday after militia members attacked coalition positions during a sandstorm.

The US military said at least 28 militants were killed during battles in the Sadr City area of the capital on Tuesday, while four US soldiers were killed by rocket and mortar fire in the east of the capital on Monday.

The two main hospitals in Sadr City are struggling to cope with the recent influx of casualties, officials at the Imam Ali and the al Sadr General hospitals have said.

More than 400 people have died and almost 2,500 others have been injured since the end of March, the hospitals have said.

Staff at the hospitals are worried they are running out of clean water and do not have enough severe trauma specialists to treat all those who need help, says the BBC's Clive Myrie in Baghdad.

Last week Moqtada Sadr told his supporters that while they should continue "resisting" what he called the US "occupation" of Iraq, they should not fight Iraqis.

But he has also rejected the Iraqi government's conditions for ending the crackdown on Shia militias.

These include militias handing in their weapons and handing over fighters wanted by the authorities.

Doctors in Baghdad say more than 50 civilians were injured in the fighting on Tuesday.

An independent website, icasualties.org, estimates that 4,058 U.S. soldiers, and 310 soldiers from other nations, have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Another website run by academics and peace activists, iraqbodycount.net, estimates up to 90,782 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the same period.

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