For the fifth day in a row, security forces continue large-scale operations in the province of Basra, targeting civilian activists and demonstrators, whom they claim are behind the organization and coordination of the demonstrations, as well as having participated in the burning the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of armed parties and militias inside the city.
According to information from the Basra police headquarters, the new police chief, Lieutenant General Rashid Filah, oversees arrests and the pursuit of activists in all regions and cities of Basra.
For his part, the envoy of the Ministry of Defense to Basra, Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji, revealed that "accurate information about who fabricated the sabotage in Basra has been provided."
He said, "Our investigations into the perpetrators of the burning of state institutions and party headquarters revealed that there are those who tried to influence the conduct of peaceful demonstrations through subversive and hostile riots, and acts not related to the demonstrations through any connection," asserting "the possession of information on the existence of elements possessing certain accounts, which are under investigation now, to find out the reasons for obtaining this order,” noting that “this information forced us to change the tactics of security plans in order to preserve the people of the province and its constituencies."
Most of the leaders of demonstrations in Basra were forced to leave and organize demonstrations outside of the country, fearing arrests.
Hassan al-Mansouri, one of the prominent activists in the demonstrations, said, "We were forced to leave the province, where we are continuously pursued by the security services and the Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS),” indicating “our leadership of the demonstrations is taking place through communication sites, with those in Basra, until the fulfillment of all the demands and rights of the population," stressing that there are preparations for a large-scale demonstration on Friday in the province.
Mansouri criticized the "governmental actions and the attempt to pin charges against the demonstrators and their leaders." He called on the tribes of Basra and its people to "stand by the demonstrators and not to stop trying to put charges against them."
Basra province had witnessed huge protests in the past few days as protesters called for enhancing services provided to citizens, combating corruption and halting Iran's interference in Iraq's internal affairs.