12/23/2010 02:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Brazil Favela Battles: Government Fights For Control Of Rio De Janeiro Slums

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Brazilian paratroopers will spend the holidays in two of Rio's biggest slums, as the government launches the second phase of an unprecedented operation to maintain hard-won control over one of the city's most violent regions.

Soldiers began patrolling the streets inside the slums of Complexo do Alemao and Vila Cruzeiro today, nearly a month after they helped police take back the area from drug gangs that were headquartered there.

"This operation has a historic importance for all of us," said Major Fabiano Lima de Carvalho, of the army's paratrooper brigade. "This region spent many years without the presence of the police."

For the last month, soldiers have been stationed at checkpoints only on the edges of Complexo do Alemao while police conducted operations inside the slums. Now the army is taking command of the entire operation and 1,800 paratroopers will work with approximately 200 local police to patrol the streets throughout both slum communities, known here as favelas.

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