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Photos: Fighting between rival Iraqi forces erupts in Baghdad

Fighting between rival Iraqi forces raged for a second day in Baghdad, leaving at least 30 people dead.

People help an injured protester during clashes with anti-riot forces near the prime minister's office in Baghdad. [Ahmed Jalil/EPA]

Fighting between rival Iraqi forces is raging for a second day, with rocket fire echoing from Baghdad’s Green Zone – where 30 people have been killed, according to medical sources.

The violence began after powerful Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Monday that he would resign from Iraqi politics, prompting hundreds of his angry followers to storm the government palace, sparking clashes with security forces.

Protesters loyal to al-Sadr pulled down the cement barriers outside the government palace with ropes and breached the gates, rushing into the lavish salons and marbled halls of the palace, a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew, and the caretaker premier suspended cabinet sessions in response to the violence. Medical officials said dozens of protesters were wounded by gunfire and tear gas and physical altercations with riot police.

Iraq’s government has been deadlocked since al-Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections but not enough to secure a majority government.

During Monday’s clashes, a militia aligned with al-Sadr gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square to protect protesters, according to one of its commanders.

Protests also broke out in the Shia-majority southern provinces, with al-Sadr’s supporters burning tires and blocking roads in the oil-rich province of Basra and hundreds demonstrating outside the governorate building in Missan.

This is not the first time al-Sadr, who has called for early elections and the dissolution of parliament, has announced his retirement from politics, and many dismissed Monday’s move as another bluff to gain greater leverage against his rivals amid a worsening deadlock.

Iraqi security forces help an injured colleague during clashes with Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters near the prime minister's office. [Ahmed Jalil/EPA]

Al-Sadr supporters clash with supporters of the rival Coordination Framework at the Green Zone in Baghdad. [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

Al-Sadr supporters climb over barriers in the Green Zone in Baghdad. [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

Iraqi security forces fire tear gas on people protesting inside the government palace grounds, in Baghdad. [Hadi Mizban/AP Photo]

Al-Sadr supporters storm the Republican Palace after al-Sadr announced his total withdrawal from politics. [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu]

An al-Sadr supporter shows ammunition casings after clashes with security forces in Baghdad. [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu]

Fighters from al-Sadr's Peace Brigades fire their weapons during clashes with the Iraqi security forces near the Green Zone. [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

Fighters from al-Sadr's Peace Brigades gather during clashes with the Iraqi security forces. [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]


(c) 2022, Al Jazeera




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