Published On: Mon, Jan 20th, 2020

Dozens of Iraqi protesters wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

Dozens of Iraqi protesters wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

Demonstrators were injured in Baghdad and other cities in clashes with security forces trying to clear blocked roads

MEE and agencies Mon, 01/20/2020 – 08:34

In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police (Reuters)

Dozens of Iraqi protesters were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces who were trying to clear blocked roads, security and medical sources said, 

In the capital’s Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

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Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tyres and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nasiriyah, Karbala and Amara. 

The protesters say Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises, including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

“They (the security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said one woman protester in Baghdad, who declined to give her name to Reuters.

Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings”.

Hundreds killed

On Sunday, rallies had swelled in other cities, including Diwaniyah and Kut, where most government offices, schools and universities have been shuttered for months.

In the holy city of Najaf, youth wrapped in checkered black-and-white scarves and carrying Iraqi flags lit tyres and began a sit-in on a main road leading to the capital.

Mass protests have gripped Iraq since 1 October, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. 

More than 450 people have been killed.

Numbers had dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq.

The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases housing US troops, has highlighted the influence of some foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.

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