BAGHDAD, Iraq – A top U.S. general in Iraq vowed on Wednesday to "destroy" a Shiite militia led by wanted radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) that has launched a wave of attacks against coalition forces in southern cities.
"We will attack to destroy the al-Mahdi Army," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search) told reporters. "Those attacks will be deliberate, precise and they will be successful."
He said U.S. forces were trying to hunt down members of the al-Mahdi Army in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City (search) in Baghdad, and he called on al-Sadr to surrender.
"If he wants to calm the situation ... he can turn himself in to a local Iraqi police station and he can face justice," Kimmitt said.
U.S. authorities announced an arrest warrant for al-Sadr, whose al-Mahdi Army militia battled U.S. and other coalition troops since Sunday in a half dozen cities, including Baghdad and mainly Shiite cities of the south, killing eight U.S. soldiers and two coalition soldiers.
Kimmitt said al-Sadr -- along with Sunni guerrillas who have opposed U.S. forces for months -- are waging violence to disrupt the June 30 handover of power from the Americans to an Iraqi government.
"All the Iraqi people that are watching this understand this. It all comes down to extremism versus moderation," Kimmitt said. "The extremists want to .. take this country back to an authoritarian regime or even worse .. some sort of Talibanization of this country."