Top Sadrist Official Arrested By Iraqi Troops In Amarah

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi troops have arrested the top official in the Shiite militia stronghold of Amarah.

Rafia Abdul-Jabbar is a loyalist of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and his arrest drew immediate condemnation from other al-Sadr followers. They have accused the Iraqi government of trying to undermine the Sadrist movement ahead of provincial elections scheduled for the fall.

Iraq’s defense ministry says Abdul-Jabbar was among 17 wanted people detained this morning.

The arrests come as part of a new crackdown in the city. Wednesday was the deadline for militants in Amarah to surrender their arms or face arrest. Thursday morning, Iraqi troops fanned out and gunmen tossed their weapons onto the streets and into canals.

The city is purported to be a center of weapons smuggling from neighboring Iran.