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BLOG: Deadly protests rocks Iraq

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Russia Calls on Conflicting Parties in Iraq to Calm Down, Start Dialogue – Source

Moscow is closely following the recent developments in Iraq and calls on opposing sides in the country to launch dialogue, a source in the Russian foreign ministry told Sputnik on Tuesday.

On Monday, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his final retirement from politics and the closure of all offices of his party — the Sadrist Movement — amid threats of his physical elimination.

After that, violent clashes erupted between followers of al-Sadr and Iraqi security forces. Demonstrators stormed the Republican Palace in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone.

“We are following how events develop. Of course, everyone needs to calm down and conduct a constructive dialogue,” the source said.

(Source: Sputnik News)

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Iran closes its borders with Iraq, halts flights amid violence

Iran has closed its borders with Iraq and urged its citizens to avoid travelling there, a senior official said on Tuesday, amid an eruption of violence after powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he would quit politics.

Heavy clashes in Baghdad killed at least 20 people on Monday, after Sadr’s announcement prompted his loyalists to storm a government palace and fight with rival groups.

Millions of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Kerbala every year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, Imam Hussein. Arbaeen falls on September 16-17 this year.

“The border with Iraq has been closed. Due to safety concerns, it is necessary for Iranians to refrain from travelling to Iraq until further notice,” state TV quoted Iran’s deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi as saying.

(Source: Reuters News)

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EU expresses concern over violent protests in Iraq

Expressing concern over the ongoing protests in Iraq after the supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr and the security forces clashed as the Shi’ite cleric announced quitting politics, the European Union urged all the parties to exercise restraint “to prevent further violence”.

In a statement, the EU urged all parties to exercise restraint “to prevent further violence” and invited “political forces to solve issues through a constructive political dialogue within the constitutional framework”, reported Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, Turkey has urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Baghdad and called for “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the ongoing crisis.

“Turkiye is concerned about the developments in brotherly Iraq,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

It further added that it hoped that the current political conflicts will be resolved peacefully and through inclusive dialogue, and the peace and well-being of the Iraqi people will be ensured.

Earlier, Muqtada al-Sadr announced a hunger strike until the protestors’ violence and use of weapons stop, according to media reports.

(Source: Asian News International)

12 killed as al-Sadr supporters storm Iraqi government offices in Baghdad

Thousands of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s supporters stormed major Iraqi government buildings in Baghdad, sparking clashes that left at least 12 people killed and dozens wounded late on Monday.

Iraqi security forces fired tear gas canisters and bullets in the air to disperse the protesters who stormed the compounds, while sporadic shootouts from unknown gunmen occurred inside the heavily fortified zone, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a source from the Interior Ministry.

At least 12 protesters and security members were killed and dozens wounded, the source said, adding the security forces managed to push back the protesters from the presidential palace and the prime minister’s headquarters before sunset, but their weeks-long sit-in protest was continuing in the parliament building inside the Green Zone.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, also commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, ordered the security forces to refrain from using live bullets at demonstrators, said a statement from his media office.

He has also launched an investigation into the casualties in the clashes, pledging to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable according to the law, the statement added.

Amid the heightened tension, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Arab League (AL) called for all Iraqi political actors to work toward de-escalation.

“Today’s developments are an extremely dangerous escalation,” said the UN mission in a statement, calling on all protesters to immediately leave the Green Zone and vacate all governmental buildings, stressing dialogue as the only means to resolve political differences.

The AL Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit warned against the situation in Iraq sliding into more violence, chaos, and bloodshed.

“The Arab League is following all the measures taken by the Iraqi government to maintain civil peace, security, and stability in the country,” it said in a statement.

(Source: Indo-Asian News Service)

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