At least 10 people were killed in violent clashes that erupted in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Monday after powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he was retiring from political life. More than 200 people were injured, medical sources told CNN.
Security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition to drive protesters out of Iraq’s Republican palace, multiple witnesses told CNN. Hundreds of protesters stormed buildings in the Green Zone after al-Sadr’s announcement, Iraqi security officials told CNN on Monday.
Iraqi security forces said on Tuesday that four rockets landed in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, damaging a residential complex. The rockets were launched from Al-Habibiya and Al-Baladiyat areas east of the capital, Iraqi security media cell said. The Republican Palace is where Iraq’s cabinet meets, and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is currently suspending all meetings of the government until further notice, according to a statement released by his office. The prime minister asked Al-Sadr to “assist in calling on protesters to withdraw from government institutions.”
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr apologized to the Iraqi people after nearly two days of violent clashes between rival Shiite Muslim groups, and told his supporters to protest in central Baghdad on Tuesday. I urged him to stop working.
At least 15 of his protesters died after supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr clashed with security forces, his Associated Press reported Tuesday. Baghdad was hit with violence late Monday when protesters stormed the government palace, forcing the government to suspend a ministerial meeting afterward. United Arab Emirates airline Emirates canceled flights scheduled for Tuesday due to unrest. The Iraqi army has imposed a nationwide curfew.
Any disruption to production in Iraq, the second largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, could impact global markets. So far, however, street violence has been reported in central Baghdad, far from Basra, Iraq’s main oil production and export center, and in other key areas north of the capital.
In a televised speech, Mr Sadr said he was “not revolutionary (no longer) because it has lost its peaceful character”.