The Iraqi military has acknowledged for the first time that some of its troops used “excessive force” against unarmed protesters as the death toll from six days of anti-government protests
The statement came after at least 15 people were killed overnight in Sadr City, a densely populated Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad, where security forces fired live ammunition at crowds of demonstrators.
Adel Abdel Mahdi, Iraq’s embattled prime minister, ordered the army to withdraw from Sadr City after the killings and be replaced by police units.
"Excessive force outside the rules of engagement was used and we have begun to hold accountable those commanding officers who carried out these wrong acts," the military said in a statement.
The acknowledgement came as social media was flooded with videos of Iraqi troops opening fire on unarmed demonstrators. One video appeared to show the military firing a rocket at a crowd of protesters.
Iraqis have been taking to the streets since last Tuesday in mass protests against government corruption, high unemployment, and the dire state of public services like water and electricity.