Heavy Fighting In Baghdad As Powerful Cleric Calls For His Supports To Back Down

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:

  1. At least 10 killed in clashes in Baghdad’s Green Zone after powerful cleric announces withdrawal from politics  CNN
  2. LIVE: Clashes near Iraq’s parliament in Baghdad  Reuters
  3. Deadly clashes in Iraq as Sadr quits politics  Reuters
  4. Buildings stormed after Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi political leader, retires  BBC
  5. Iraq protests: Multiple deaths, dozens injured after hundreds storm gov’t palace, clash with security forces  Fox News