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Baghdad Neighborhood Reverts to Militant Stance

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Annie, what's the situation there?

ANNE GARRELS: Today on the streets, Shiite militiamen were much more noticeable than in the past. They had effectively threatened shop owners. They closed their stores to support the Sadrist protest against U.S. and the Iraqi government detentions of militiamen. Schools were closed. I went to several rounds, military patrols public school projects were at a - such as they are, were at a standstill. Workers were apparently either supporting the strike or were frightened off and didn't turn out for work.

SIEGEL: Now, what about the upsurge of attacks on U.S. troops, and how are U.S. forces dealing with those attacks?

GARRELS: There has been a communications blackout here for the last few days while the military tries to officially inform the families; they have now done so. So everybody here tonight is on a cell phone calling their families, telling them they are okay.

SIEGEL: In Basra, we hear about the Iraqi forces taking the lead with U.S. and Britain, perhaps providing air support or embedding some advisers along the way. There in Baghdad, has the balance of responsibility between the U.S. and the Iraqis, has it changed visibly to you or are the Americans doing what the Americans did last year and the year before?

GARRELS: And I asked the commander today, Colonel Ricky Gibbs, and so what are they then saying? He said, they can't say anything.

SIEGEL: Thanks a lot and take care.

GARRELS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Anne Garrels
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.