War Behind a Wall: Fighting in Sadr City

Behind him three trucks had brought in hundreds of bags of onions and vegetables, the first delivery to the market in weeks. But, mostly, the delivery area was empty.

"We've been coming out here daily doing combat patrols with the Iraqi army, just to let them know we're here, we're not afraid to interact with them," he said.

Each day, he and his team hands out loan applications to shopkeepers whose stores were destroyed in the fighting between the Mahdi Army and the United States.

"We're showing them that it wasn't us that was actually us causing all the damage."

Sparks' troops arrived in late April and immediately were deployed to help build the wall.

"It's unprecedented -- to have to build a wall on the front line of a war," he said riding along the wall in a recently delivered MRAP, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck that protects soldiers from improvised explosive devices.

The soldiers were under constant sniper fire and mortar attack while they built, but in the last week, they haven't used their weapons once.

"You're in combat operations one minute and then you're in counterinsurgency the next," Sparks said. "We need to provide the security here for the local shops so they're allowed to open and do their business freely."

Shops like Abdulhussein's.

At the Civil Military Operations Center where Abdulhussein applied for money, Maj.Michael Bailey spends his days meeting with local Iraqi leaders.

"We're here to be their friends and we're here to help them with whatever they need," he told ABC News. "And this may be trying to get food rations in, trying to get transportation into the Jamila market, trying to help with the traffic flow, addressing the issues with sewers. Sewers and electricity are the probably the two biggest problems in this area. Electricity is a monster."

Hassan Musa, the head of the provincial council in the area, works with Bailey on an almost daily basis. He says the United States is trying to help, but he also says the job is massive.

"The people who are in charge should start rehabilitation," he said. "We need to rehabilitate the whole city from the beginning."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4955244. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4955244. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4955244.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...