Baghdad saw violent protests when Iraqi Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr said on Monday that he was leaving politics. Two people died as thousands of his supporters attacked the presidential palace in Iraq. Protesters in Baghdad invaded the Green Zone and assaulted the Republican Palace, the seat of government, in what seemed to be a replay of the Sri Lanka crisis.
Similar to the images that went viral from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, irate protesters occupied President Goatabaya Rajapaksa’s palace in agitation over political and economic turmoil pictures, and videos of demonstrators cooling off in the pool have been making the rounds online.
At least 15 demonstrators died in Iraq thus far. As night struck and word of the Shia spiritual leader’s resignation spread, supporters of al-Sadr flocked to Baghdad’s streets. Al-militia, Sadr’s Saraya Salam, engaged in combat with the security force known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
As Muqtada al-supporters Sadr tore down cement barriers outside the government building and forcibly entered the palace, they took advantage of all the amenities offered, including the swimming pool, and more military forces were dispatched to the presidential palace.
The operation to control the situation near the presidential palace included a small special forces division. It includes 9th Division of the Iraqi Army also. Local sources state that security personnel used stun grenades and tear gas bombs to put a stop to the protests.
The center section of the city resounded with the crackle of machine gun fire. There were reportedly stone-throwing incidents between Sadr’s followers and Tehran-backed soldiers. Following that, a curfew was immediately implemented since Palace security could not contain a large number of protesters.
Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who counts many of al-fans Sadr’s as his followers, retired, prompting Al-Sadr to decide to leave politics, according to a story in Russia Today.
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