Can Iraq's Militias Be Tamed?

As the killings continue, TIME meets fighters on both sides of Iraq's sectarian divide--and finds hope that all-out civil war can be avoided

As he steps onto the streets of Baghdad's Shi'ite slum Sadr City, Saed Salah chambers a round into his pistol and shoves it into the back of his pants. A mid-ranking commander in the Mahdi Army, one of the most potent of the armed militias that have carved Baghdad into fiefdoms, Saed Salah has little to fear from the authorities. The whole neighborhood knows who he is. Motorists are aware that his fighters man the makeshift checkpoints that dot the neighborhood. Even though he has attacked U.S. troops countless times, no one will touch him. If the G.I.s could find him, they...

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