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Some good news for a change

While the Abu Ghraib and Nick Berg atrocities have sucked all the oxygen from the news cycle, there seems to have been slow but steady progress in parts of Iraq where the coalition is fighting to put down Sadr's Shiite uprising.

...American forces, which have been ringing Najaf and Karbala for weeks, have in recent days struck decisively at Mr. Sadr's militia.

In Karbala, American soldiers killed at least 22 insurgents in an 11-hour battle around a mosque that began late Tuesday night. Soldiers killed at least three more in fighting in the same neighborhood on Wednesday, said Col. Peter Mansoor, the commander of the First Brigade of the First Armored Division, who is charged with crushing the insurgency by Mr. Sadr's militia. At least seven Americans were wounded.

The fighting at the Mukhaiyam Mosque and the warrens of the surrounding neighborhood brought hundreds of American soldiers within a quarter mile of two of the most sacred places in Shiite Islam, the golden-domed shrines of Hussein and Abbas. Though the Americans say they are determined to destroy Mr. Sadr's forces, they have been cautious about bringing the war to the holy areas here and in Najaf. Invading the city centers of either place, they fear, could stir the wrath of Shiite Muslims around the world, even those who dislike Mr. Sadr.

Tuesday night, the Americans made a high-risk gamble by trying to breach the Mukhaiyam Mosque, situated just west of the Shrine of Hussein. The attack was one of the largest operations carried out in the past year by the First Armored Division, which until now was responsible for controlling Baghdad. Fighting raged on all sides of the mosque, with soldiers scrambling through rubble-strewn streets and ducking sniper shots and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Americans relied heavily on the devastating cannons and machine guns of their M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, which pounded surrounding buildings, setting many on fire.

Colonel Mansoor said that he believed the attack on the mosque had broken the back of the insurgents and that their activities would drop off sharply. But he also observed that the insurgents were "tenacious."