Iraqi forces kill dozens of protesters, deploy military to stem unrest | News | DW | 28.11.2019
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Iraqi forces kill dozens of protesters, deploy military to stem unrest

The death toll rose throughout Thursday as Iraqi authorities continued its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters. Thousands have been wounded and hundreds killed in nearly two months of demonstrations.

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Fire rages as Iraq protesters torch Iran consulate

Iraqi security forces shot dead 40 protesters and wounded many more during widespread clashes across the country on Thursday, in the latest bloody crackdown during nearly two months of anti-government protests.

Security forces killed 25 protesters in Nasiriyah, in the country's southern Dhi Qar province, as they blocked an important bridge.

It came just days after protesters set fire to two government buildings and the home of a lawmaker in the city.

In the capital, Baghdad, security forces shot dead four protesters and wounded a further 22 when protesters attempted to cross the important Ahrar Bridge.

A further 10 people were killed at the Shiite shrine city of Najaf — protesters torched the Iranian consulate there on Wednesday in anger at Tehran's political and military meddling in its neighbor.

The protesters were killed and injured when security forces opened fire to prevent them from entering the building.

The governor of Dhi Qar province, Adel al-Dakheel, announced a three-day period of mourning on Thursday.

Funeral processions provided another opportunity to protest with mourners defying a curfew announced a day earlier.

 "We're staying until the regime falls and our demands are met!" the mourners chanted. 

Read more: Al-Hashd al-Shaabi and Hezbollah: Iran's allies in Iraq and Lebanon

Protesters stand in front of a burning building

Nasiriyah saw the worst violence on Thursday

'Restore order' 

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi ordered military leaders to deploy forces in the predominately Shiite southern provinces with the most protests, according to the military.

The Iraqi military also said Thursday that joint military-civilian "crisis cells" have been established to "impose security and restore order."

It said military commanders have been appointed to direct and control security and assist governors. By the afternoon on Thursday one commander, Jamil Shummary, had already been sacked.

Rights groups speak out

The Iraqi Human Rights Commission accused the security forces of using "excessive force" during the crackdowns.

"The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning more closely resemble a war zone than city streets and bridges," said Lynn Maalouf of rights group Amnesty International. 

"This bloodbath must now stop," she added.

However, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi demanded that Iraq take decisive action against the protesters. He said Iran had "officially communicated its disgust to the Iraqi ambassador in Tehran" over the consulate attack, in a statement to Iran's state news agency IRNA.

Grassroots protests

Baghdad and southern Iraq have been gripped by the largest grassroots protests against the entire political class and rampant corruption since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

More than 390 people have been killed and thousands wounded in demonstrations that have crossed the country's sectarian lines.

The demonstrations are the biggest threat to the Shiite-dominated ruling class in the post-Saddam era. Protesters are mostly unemployed and disenfranchised Shiite youth seeking the departure of those claiming to represent them.

kmm,cw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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