Today we learn that:
American military forces for the first time conducted air strikes on targets in Basra late Thursday, joining Iraqi security forces in trying to oust Shiite militias in the southern port city.
…while in Baghdad:
U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.
Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army’s AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.
I thought that was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation, that is willing to take on elements that are — you know, that believe they’re beyond the law.
And secondly, we are helping, but it’s important to know that the Iraqis are in the lead. This is a positive moment in the development of a nation that can govern itself and defend itself and sustain itself. We will provide oversight and, on occasion, support when asked. This is an Iraqi operation.