The Iraqi Army built a base in the outdoor space where 7,000 Sadr City residents pray every Friday.
This Friday, they posted snipers on rooftops and checkpoints around the mosque.
The Jeish al Mehdi tried to keep worshipers from confronting the soldiers.
The most amazing thing to me on this trip has been the ability to visit places I haven't been able to go since 2006, and in some cases, since 2005. It stirs memories, good and bad, but the most striking things are the physical changes (and in some cases, lack thereof) in Baghdad as the war drags on through its fifth year.
A hot summer, even for Baghdad.
The Tigris drops. Sea grass under the bridges.
'Are you a river?' asked Al-Sayyab, 'or a forest of tears?'
They only found 83 bodies last week.
Rebar and concrete husks punched through by rockets.
Facades wrapped around hot air and broken furniture.
A hundred miles of concrete, and the wooden stock, warn smooth under his hand.
The buses have all gone. We are left alone with the oil stained pavement and the taste of cardamom.
Amman - when will you deserve your pale white stone, your thin air and your two million refugees?
Mercenaries grow old here, skin hangs to muscle and bone. Oily stares that hope for nothing.
Our black wing passes over the crescent moon. We dive into the darkness of Baghdad.
On July 28, 2008, Iran's Press TV conducted a live interview with David Enders about his perspectives on the war in Iraq.
Enders is currently reporting from Baghdad on Iraq's upcoming elections, the issue of U.S. detention of Iraqis and continued U.S. pacification efforts in Sadr City and Falluja.
Enders also plans to travel to Syria to examine the continuing struggle for Iraqi refugees there.
There are approximately 5 million refugees inside and outside Iraq. Yesterday Rick and I went back to Chikook, a refugee neighborhood on the north side of town that is home to, by local estimates, some 4,000 families. Even though the sectarian violence around Baghdad has largely ended for the moment, the neighborhood is still growing as families who had been renting houses in other neighborhoods run out of money and are forced to move there.
Baghdad is certainly safer now, but the scars of war are still raw. This afternoon I ran into a man I had not seen for more than three years, a clerk at a hotel I used to stay in. As we reminisced about crazy days in 2005, he suddenly mentioned that he had lost his son in crossfire in 2006.
He put his eyes down and began to fidget nervously.
"I have two daughters, but he was only son," he said. "What should I do? I am too old to get married again."
Rick and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Falluja as the guests of one of the local sheiks and a leader of the Sahwa Movement. Things are much better than they have been at any time since 2004, though a conflict between the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Sahwa threatens to turn violent as provincial elections approach.
The three months of fighting at Nahr al-Bared last year brought a period of relative unity to Lebanon. In a country whose political process is founded on sectarianism, the army is one of the few state organs free of religious-based schism. The Nahr al-Bared conflict, which pitted the army against the shadowy, foreign, Fatah al-Islam group, led Lebanese citizens of every sect to rally together behind their army.