Heavy Firing In Green Zone Amid Violent Clashes In Iraq, 30 Killed

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The political crisis in Iraq has deepened after Shia cleric Muktada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics. There has been a civil war-like situation in the capital Baghdad. 

At least 30 people were killed in violent clashes between al-Sadr supporters and security forces. Heavy gunfire rocks in Baghdad Green Zone.

Baghdad: After Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muktada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics, hundreds of his supporters opened fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone’. 

At the same time, Iraq’s security forces fired in retaliation. At least 30 protesters were killed in violent clashes between al-Sadr supporters and security forces.

Supporters attacked the first ‘Green Zone’ after cleric al-Sadr announced his retirement from politics on Monday amid political turmoil. 

Iraq’s government has been at a standstill since cleric Muktada al-Sadr’s party won the most seats in October’s parliamentary elections but failed to reach a majority. He had refused to negotiate with Iran-backed Shia rivals to form a consensus government.

There are signs of deepening political crisis in the country due to violence (violent protests in Iraq). However, at some places in the country, people remained off the streets and the atmosphere remained largely calm. At the same time, Iran closed its borders to Iraq. Tehran fears that a wave of clashes could spread there. 

Live broadcasts of local television showed supporters of al-Sadr throwing heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades and security forces firing from the ‘green zone’ in retaliation. At the same time, passersby, unaware of the danger, filmed the shootout with their mobile phones.

Armored tankers were seen standing around the ‘Green Zone’ after al-Sadr supporters stopped the attack. A plume of thick black smoke was visible at one point in the area from several kilometers (miles) away. 

Television footage showed the Iraqi foreign ministry carrying an injured man in a three-wheeled rickshaw. At least 30 protesters have been killed and more than 400 have been injured in the overnight clashes, according to two Iraqi medical officials.

The dead included both loyalists of al-Sadr, who died in protests a day earlier. On the lines of anonymity, officials said that the death toll is expected to rise.

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