In a televised speech, Muqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to leave the capital’s government quarter, and minutes later some could be seen abandoning their positions on live television.
The unrest began Monday when al-Sadr announced he would resign from politics and his supporters stormed the Green Zone. At least 30 people have been killed, officials said.
Al-Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections but not enough to secure a majority government. This unleashed months of infighting between different Shiite factions.
Supporters of al-Sadr fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at security forces inside the heavily-fortified area, and armored tanks stood on the other side of the barriers.
At least 30 people have been killed and 400 wounded in clashes between al-Sadr’s forces and government forces, medical officials said.
Iraq’s majority Shiite Muslim population was oppressed under Saddam Hussein, but the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled him reversed the political order. Now, the Shiites are fighting among themselves, with Iranian-backed Shiites and Iraqi-nationalist Shiites jockeying for power, influence and state resources.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- At least 10 killed in clashes in Baghdad’s Green Zone after powerful cleric announces withdrawal from politics CNN
- LIVE: Clashes near Iraq’s parliament in Baghdad Reuters
- Deadly clashes in Iraq as Sadr quits politics Reuters
- Buildings stormed after Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi political leader, retires BBC
- Iraq protests: Multiple deaths, dozens injured after hundreds storm gov’t palace, clash with security forces Fox News