The Los Angeles Department of Public Works, backed by police and firefighters, on Tuesday launched a major cleanup effort in downtown's skid row to address urine, feces, discarded needles and other health dangers cited in a recent county report.

The operation, requested by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is expected to last up to three weeks and is focused on the area between 5th and 7th streets and Gladys Avenue and Wall Street.

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