Live updates: Sadr calls on supporters to withdraw from Green Zone after fighting leaves 30 dead in Iraq

Live updates: Sadr calls on supporters to withdraw from Green Zone after fighting leaves 30 dead in Iraq
5 min read
Sadr called on his followers to end protest amid fears that Iraq is descending into political chaos after 30 people were killed.

Powerful Shia leader Moqtada Sadr gave a press conference on Tuesday calling on his supporters to immediately withdraw from protests outside the Iraqi parliament after fighting raged for a second day and at least 30 people, mostly Sadr supporters were killed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi praised the speech.

Tensions have soared in Iraq amid a political crisis that has left the country without a new government, prime minister or president for months, and escalated sharply after Sadr's supporters on Monday afternoon stormed the government palace following  an earlier announcement by the leader that he was quitting politics.

The violence pitches backers of Sadr against rival Shia factions backed by neighbouring Iran.

Overnight, shelling targeted the high-security Green Zone that houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, a security source said, amid angry protests after Sadr's surprise announcement.

At least seven shells fell in the high-security Green Zone, the security source said on condition of anonymity, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible.

The security source said Sadr's supporters opened fire at the Green Zone from the outside, adding security forces inside "were not responding".

After a lull in violence, fresh clashes between Sadr's supporters and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), former Tehran-backed paramilitaries integrated into the Iraqi forces, erupted again on Tuesday morning.

The rattle of automatic gunfire and heavier explosions of rocket-propelled grenades could be heard from the Green Zone.

The United Nations mission in Iraq warned of "an extremely dangerous escalation" and called on all sides to "refrain from acts that could lead to an unstoppable chain of events".

"The very survival of the state is at stake," it warned.

The New Arab is providing live updates as Iraq enters into a perilous new phase, with fears of a new civil war on the horizon.

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5:34 PM

This concludes our live blog on a day when Iraq appeared to be brought back from the brink of a new civil war, but no resolution to the country's simmering political crisis appeared to be in sight. Follow The New Arab for more news updates about Iraq.

1:36 PM

Pro-Iran groups call on supporters to withdraw from Green Zone

Pro-Iran parties have called on their supporters to withdraw from the Green Zone, following a similar call from their rival, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The tension in the Iraqi capital Baghdad has abated considerably after Sadr gave his supporters one hour to disperse their protests.

Violent clashes between Sadr supporters and pro-Iran militias have left at least 30 people dead over the past two days.

The leader of the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance, Hadi Al-Ameri, praised Sadr's speech today, saying his call on his supporters to disperse was "brave".

12:44 PM

Iraqi army reopens bridges, roads in Baghdad

The Iraqi army says that all the bridges and roads in Baghdad are now open, following Sadr's call for his supporters to disperse after two days of violence.

12:14 PM

UN Mission in Iraq welcomes Sadr's announcement

The UN's Mission in Iraq has welcomed Sadr's speech calling on his supporters to withdraw from the Green Zone, saying it was necessary to solve the political crisis in Iraq.

11:47 AM

Curfew lifted in all Iraqi provinces

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command has announced that a curfew has been lifted in all provinces of Iraq, effective immediately, after Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters began to withdraw from the Green Zone in Central Baghdad.

11:36 AM

Sadr supporters begin withdrawing from Green Zone as Kadhimi praises Sadr

Dozens of supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone in central Baghdad after he gave them one hour to end their protests and expressed regret for the violence of the last two days.

Clashes in the area, which houses the Iraqi parliament, government ministries, and foreign embassies ended and Iraqi army troops began deploying.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi praised Sadr's speech, saying it "exemplifies the highest levels of patriotism and seeks to preserve the lives of Iraqis"


11:17 AM

Sadr gives followers one hour to end protests

Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has given a press conference after earlier announcing his retirement, saying that his followers must end all protests within "sixty minutes".

He apologised to Iraqis for the violence of the past two days, "regardless of who began the chaos" and said that Iraq was now "held prisoner by violence and corruption".

Sadr also thanked the Iraqi army for their "neutrality"

11:02 AM

Pro-Iran MPs offices targeted in southern Iraq as imam of mosque killed in east Baghdad

The offices of three MPs from the pro-Iran Coordination Framework were targeted by IED explosions in the southern Iraqi provinces of Meisan and Wasit this morning, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's correspondent reports.

Iraqi media also reports that Sheikh Ismail Mashhadani was shot dead this morning after a militia tried to burn his mosque in eastern Baghdad.

10:48 AM

Sadr to hold press conference

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's correspondent in Iraq says that Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will hold a press conference today, despite earlier announcing his retirement from politics.


10:41 AM

Iraqi Supreme Court postpones session

Iraq's Supreme Federal Court has postponed a session meant to dissolve parliament, saying this was due to the curfew. A cyber-attack on the court's website took place earlier today.

9:51 AM

Food trucks coming in to Baghdad searched for weapons

The Iraqi army says trucks carrying food and medicine have been allowed to enter Baghdad, after it was verified that they were not carrying weapons.

9:46 AM

Clashes continue around Green Zone

Clashes are ongoing around the Green Zone in Baghdad, where gunfire was heard and smoke was seen rising this morning amid a number of explosions. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered more troops to deploy in the city.

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