Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Fresh, deadly clashes erupt in Iraq despite cleric's call for calm

Security forces fired tear gas and threw stun grenades into crowds of protesters wearing helmets and makeshift body armor on a main road in the middle of the Iraqi capital, sending demonstrators scattering, some wounded, Reuters reporters said.

One protester died from a tear gas canister fired directly into his head, a Reuters witness said.

More than 280 people have been killed, according to police and medics, since the protests over a lack of jobs and services began in Baghdad on Oct. 1 and quickly spread to southern provinces, according to Reuters.

Police, the military and paramilitary groups have used live gunfire against mostly unarmed protesters since the beginning of the unrest.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who only speaks on politics in times of crisis and wields enormous influence over public opinion in Shi’ite-majority Iraq, held security forces accountable for any violent escalation and urged the government to respond as quickly as possible to demonstrators’ demands.

“The biggest responsibility is on the security forces,” a representative of Sistani said in a sermon after Friday prayers in the holy city of Kerbala. “They must avoid using excessive force with peaceful protesters.”