Thousands of Iraqi protesters stood defiant in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Sunday to demand civil rights, defying a crackdown that killed dozens of people over the weekend and an overnight raid by authorities seeking to stop them.
Protesters erected barricades on a bridge leading to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, while security forced lobbed tear gas canisters at them. Medical sources told Reuters that 77 people had been injured.
Earlier on Sunday, Populist Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr withdrew his support for Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, accusing him of failing to meet protesters' demands as anti-government demonstrations raged for a third day on Sunday.
Clashes between the security forces and protesters have left at least 63 people dead and 2,592 injured over the last two days, an official with Iraq’s Human Rights Commission told The National on Sunday.
Despite being a major global hub for oil, many Iraqis live in poverty and have limited access to clean water, electricity, healthcare and education. Protesters blame the country's political elite for this and say it is subservient to regional allies in a way that doesn't consider the majority of the country's people.
Thousands also gathered on Sunday in the three southern cities of Nassiriya, Hilla, and the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala.
Members of the Saeroon bloc of MPs demanded the government resign and began a protest at parliament.
"We are on our way now to parliament for the sit-in, until the enactment of all reforms the Iraqi people are demanding,” Badr Al Zayadi, a member of parliament, said.
The bloc – Iraq's largest – is tied to Mr Al Sadr, the cleric who also called for early elections to be supervised by the United Nations. He was known to be the kingmaker of the current government after Saeroon secured a majority of seats in the May's elections.