Iraqi PM says he will expand crackdown on militias

Iraq's prime minister pledged Thursday to expand his crackdown on Shiite militias to Baghdad, despite a mixed performance so far against militants in the southern city of Basra. The U.S. ambassador, meanwhile, said that despite a "boatload" of problems with the Basra operation, he was encouraged that the Shiite-led government was finally confronting extremists regardless of their religious affiliation. Iraqi forces launched a major operation March 25 to rid Basra of Shiite militias and criminal gangs that had effectively ruled the city of 2 million people since 2005. But the offensive stalled in the face of fierce resistance from the militiamen and an uprising across the Shiite south spearheaded by the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.