Violent Unrest In Iraq Leaves 23 Dead As Protestors Storm Government Palace; Iran Shuts Border


Clashes erupted in Iraq, killing about 23 protesters after an influential Shiite cleric on Monday announced that he would resign from Iraqi politics.

What Happened: Hundreds of angry followers of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the government palace — a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries — sparking clashes with security forces in Baghdad.

Scenes similar to Sri Lanka’s presidential palace protests were created in Iraq as the protesters pulled down the cement barriers with ropes and breached the government palace gates. Videos and pictures surfacing on the internet showed many rushing into the palace’s lavish salons and marbled halls.

The Iraqi military imposed a nationwide curfew as dozens of protesters were wounded by gunfire and tear gas, and physical altercations with riot police, the Associated Press reported.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister and Sadr’s ally, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, has requested the influential cleric to intervene and stop the violence. After that, Sadr announced a hunger strike until all sides’ violence and use of weapons stopped.

Sadr’s government — which won the most seats in parliament last October — has refused to negotiate with Iran-backed Shia groups to form a government, resulting in a year of political instability in the country.

The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson said he was alarmed by events and called for “immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.”

Meanwhile, Iran shut down its borders with Iraq amid the clashes, and Kuwait has urged its citizens in Iraq to leave the country.


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