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इंडियन आवाज़     13 Apr 2024 11:58:48      انڈین آواز

Iraq witnesses biggest anti-government rally

(Last Updated On: 02/11/2019)

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand an overhaul of Iraq’s political system. Protesters also took aim at Iran’s influence, with Iraq’s top cleric warning foreign powers from interfering in protests.

AGENCIES / BAGHDAD

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Tahrir Square, waving Iraqi flags and demanding that the government resign and that parliament be dissolved.

An estimated 350 people were wounded in Friday’s demonstration after security forces fired rubber bullets and gas grenades to push protesters away from bridges leading to the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Iraqi government should listen to the “legitimate demands” of protesters, adding that the country’s official investigation into deadly violence during the first found of protests “lacked sufficient credibility.”

Since the first wave of protests began in early October, at least 250 people have been killed while an estimated 10,000 people have been injured by security forces.

Demonstrators in Baghdad on Friday also harshly criticized Iran’s involvement in Iraqi affairs, as Iraq’s top cleric warned foreign actors against interfering in the protests.

In his weekly sermon, powerful Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani said Iraq must not be dragged into the “abyss of infighting.”

“No person or group, no side with a particular view, no regional or international actor may seize the will of the Iraqi people and impose its will on them,” he said in an apparent reference to Iran.

Iran emerged as a major power broker in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Tehran backs Iraq’s current government and maintains close ties with state-backed militias.

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