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Iraqi deputy health minister arrested on suspicion of aiding Shiite militia

[JURIST] Iraq Deputy Health Minister Hakim Zamili [Iraq Ministry of Health website] has been arrested in an apparent security crackdown in Baghdad, according to a report [text] by the US military Thursday. According to military officials, Zamili had been infiltrating members of the Mehdi Army militia [BBC backgrounder], headed by militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [BBC profile], into the Iraq ministry. Zamili's brother, another Health Ministry employee, has denied the allegations.

Just yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] announced the beginning of a renewed security push [AP report] in the Baghdad area. On Sunday, the US military announced [Reuters report] that a large-scale offensive against militants was set to get underway in the wake of President Bush's announcement last month [AP report] that 21,500 more US soldiers would be deployed to Iraq. A similar effort was made last summer, but was unsuccessful. Critics blamed the failure on a lack of trained troops and Maliki's lack of assertiveness against Sadr and his militia. Reuters has more.

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