Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki yesterday declared an amnesty period of one week to Shia fighters in the southern province of Maysan to surrrender themselves amid an ongoing crackdown.
"Prime Minister Maliki has agreed to give a period of seven days starting 10:00 am (0700 GMT) today to gunmen and outlaws to surrender themselves in Maysan," Major General Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi defence ministry told AFP.
Before the operation was launched on June 19, Maliki had given a four-day deadline for militants to surrender their weapons and themselves.
Askari said the latest amnesty issued by Maliki was to esnure that the operation was a "success."
He said it was issued because a large number of gunmen had told local tribal chiefs of their desire to surrender but "they were afraid of the punishment."
"So this amnesty is for those who want to surrender themselves but not for those who have the blood of Iraqis on their hands," Askari said.
Since the Maysan crackdown was launched, dozens of militiamen have been detained by security forces, some of them from the movement of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.