Iraq in turmoil: At least 30 killed, 180 wounded from clashes in Baghdad after Sadr resigns with no ceasefire in sight
At least 30 people were killed and more than 180 others were injured in Iraq's capital as intense fighting continues between militias loyal to powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran-backed militias, sources and local Iraqi media outlets said.
Heavy clashes erupted late Monday after Sadr announced his "retirement" from politics in Iraq. Consequently, pro-Sadr protestors stormed presidential and government palaces located in the capital's Green Zone, where most diplomatic missions are also located.
"So far the death toll is 30 and more than 180 injuries," a close source of Iraq's ruling elites in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The New Arab. The source also confirmed that there are no new attempts for a cease-fire between the rival Shia militias.
TNA contacted Saif al-Badr, spokesperson of Iraq's health ministry, and Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operation Command, but they were not immediately available to comment.
Iraq's security media cell announced that four Katyusha rockets were fired from eastern Baghdad and landed in the Green Zone causing damages, without further clarifications. It also urged media outlets to be accurate in covering the events in Iraq.
Iraqi social media users on Twitter claimed that the Mahdi Army, also known as the Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM), a Shia militia led by Sadr, launched the rockets. The militia was founded in 2003 and fought the US army in 2004.
Senior sources from Mustafa al-Kadhimi's caretaker government told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Iraqi PM has further military reinforcements into central Baghdad to impose a total curfew across the country.
Iraq has been mired in political deadlock due to disagreement between Shia factions over forming a coalition since legislative elections were held in October last year.
In the latest and perhaps most dangerous chapter of this row, Sadr announced on Monday his "final retirement" from politics and decided to close "all the institutions" linked to his movement, except the mausoleum of his father and other heritage sites.
Sadr's Shia rivals, organised under the Coordination Framework, include former paramilitaries of the Iran-backed Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi network and the party of former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a longtime foe to Sadr.
Sadr insists that Iraq's Supreme Federal Court dissolve parliament and new elections be held. The Coordination Framework insists that parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself.
The Iraqi Supreme Federal Court, which was expected to look at the complaints raised by supporters of Sadr asking the court to dissolve the country's parliament, postponed its session today.