Clashes Follow Sunni Leader's Arrest In Iraq The fighting took place in Baghdad's Fadhil neighborhood, after security forces arrested the leader of Awakening, the Sunni neighborhood watch group. The program was designed to turn insurgents into security forces.
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Clashes Follow Sunni Leader's Arrest In Iraq

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Clashes Follow Sunni Leader's Arrest In Iraq

Clashes Follow Sunni Leader's Arrest In Iraq

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Baghdad is tense today after clashes broke out between a U.S.-backed Sunni paramilitary group called the Sons of Iraq, and Iraqi and American soldiers. The fighting took place in Baghdad's Fadhil neighborhood after security forces arrested the leader of the Sunni neighborhood watch group. Three civilians have been killed in the fighting so far, and the Sunni-Arab fighters have taken five Iraqi soldiers hostage. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro joins us now from Baghdad. Lourdes, can you tell us what's going on right now?

LOURDES GARCIA: We just spoke to one of his deputies from the Sons of Iraq there. They say that they've now been forced off the streets and that Iraqi security forces are in control of the area. There is a tense standoff for the moment.

HANSEN: Tell us a little bit more about the Sons of Iraq.

GARCIA: The idea of handing over control of them from the U.S. to the Iraqi government was meant to be a sign of reconciliation of incorporating these former foes into the mainstream, into Iraq security forces. But the U.S. military has been caught in the middle trying to mediate the situation.

HANSEN: So how significant is this recent development?

GARCIA: There is a lot of hostility. Speaking to these men in Fadhil, they say that they feel betrayed by the U.S. military. They feel betrayed by the Iraqi government. And, of course, they're still armed.

HANSEN: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad. Lourdes, thank you very much.

GARCIA: You're welcome.

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