BAGHDAD American troops killed 11 suspected Shiite militants in a series of clashes near Sadr City on Wednesday, one day after thousands of Iraqi troops moved onto the streets of the east Baghdad district.
An American military spokesman said three of the men were killed as they planted or were preparing to plant roadside bombs in the New Baghdad area, and others after they were seen carrying machine guns or rocket-propelled grenades in the same area.
The confrontations came after a cease-fire deal with the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, which ended eight weeks of fighting between Iraqi and American troops in the area. Sadr City, a Mahdi stronghold, is the capital's most populous Shiite district.
On Tuesday, that agreement culminated in tens of thousands of Iraqi army soldiers moving onto the streets of Sadr City, where the American military said that on their first day the Iraqi soldiers found 21 roadside bombs, a Katyusha-rocket firing base and lengths of wire.
In recent weeks, Shiite militiamen have been seen laying electrical wire in streets to trigger booby traps intended for government and American troops. The Mahdi Army is widely believed to have moved its heavy weapons and senior leaders out of Sadr City before the Iraqi army moved in.
On Tuesday, reporters saw Iraqi troops fan out almost everywhere in Sadr City, putting soldiers on the roof of the Rafidain police station in the northern part of the district, and stationing tanks and Humvees around the Hikma mosque, which has been used by Sadrists to hold Friday prayer.
Sheik Salman al-Fraiji, head of the Sadr office in the district, said the cleric's followers would comply with his directions to abide by the agreement.
But he said that the city "is a military barracks now" and complained that the army had not coordinated with working teams set up by the Sadrists. He said the teams in each sector included a mukhtar, or trustee, two heads of tribes, a local "notable" and a mosque imam.
"We have no problem with the Iraqi army or police," Fraiji said, but he added that Americans were not welcome. "We don't want the occupier to enter our city."
He also demanded the removal of high concrete blast walls built by American troops along the length of one of the main thoroughfares, Al Quds Street, in an effort to stop militiamen gaining access to the southern quarter of Sadr City and firing mortars and rockets at the Green Zone in central Baghdad .
The American military has now removed some slabs to create holes in the wall, through which traffic police officers were seen on Tuesday allowing pedestrians to pass from one side to the other.
Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the American commander in northern Iraq, said that the authorities had arrested 1,200 suspects since the start of a crackdown in the northern city of Mosul earlier this month.
He also said that attacks in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, had fallen from 40 per day to between four and six. But while the insurgents appeared to have been caught out during the initial phase of the operations, he predicted that there might be more car bombs and suicide attacks "once they come out of this initial phase of being surprised."