Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 12:11 UK

Iraqi troops fan out in Sadr City

Iraqi troops entering Sadr City on Saturday
Iraq troops entered the outskirts of Sadr City on Saturday

A large force of Iraqi government troops has moved deep into the Baghdad stronghold of the militia loyal to the anti-US Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr.

The operation follows a truce earlier in the month to end weeks of fighting that killed hundreds of people.

Army officials say they will clear mines planted in the Sadr City area by militiamen from the Mehdi Army, and re-establish some basic services there.

As the troops moved in, the situation was reported to be calm.

Correspondents say that for the first time in weeks, there was no gunfire heard in the eastern Baghdad suburb.

A spokesman for Mr Sadr, whose headquarters are in the Iraqi city of Najaf, said that the deployment was within the terms of the 10 May truce and confirmed that "the forces have a right to enter and ensure law and order".

Recent fighting had been centred on a wall being built through Sadr City by the US military which is intended to prevent the flow of heavy weapons to the rest of Baghdad.

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