Militiamen holding out in Basra fighting

Militiamen holding out in Basra fighting
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Baghdad (AP) The U.S. is putting a positive spin on Iraqi raids on Shiite militia fighters, calling it a “positive” sign for the fledgling Iraqi government.

The raids have sparked violent protests by militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. The violence has left dozens dead and is threatening to unravel a cease-fire ordered by Al-Sadr, seen as a key factor in a decline in violence in Iraq.

A pentagon official says the raids prove Iraq is willing to fight its own battles.

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is warning gunmen in the port city of Basra to surrender their weapons by Friday or face harsher consequences. But government troops have been having trouble making inroads in neighborhoods controlled by Al-Sadr's forces.

Reports indicate militiamen have overrun a number of police stations and a U.S. military official says it's not clear how well the Iraqi security forces are doing overall.