Seven protesters were killed Saturday in Iraq as security forces cleared protest sites in Baghdad and Basra after political leaders agreed to stand by the embattled government by any means.
The leaders, sources told AFP, also agreed to put an end to rallies rocking Iraq's capital and its south since October 1 and demanding an overhaul of the political system.
The crackdown began in the morning when security forces wrested back control from demonstrators of three bridges spanning the River Tigris in the heart of Baghdad.
Iraqi forces then moved towards Tahrir (Liberation) Square, ground zero for the month-long movement demanding regime change, firing live rounds and tear gas.
Three demonstrators died from bullet wounds and a fourth when a tear gas canister pierced his skull, medics and police sources told AFP.
"The security forces are getting closer to us, but the protesters are trying to hold them off by burning tires," a doctor in Tahrir told AFP.
"We can hear live fire now and there are so many wounded."
Three protesters were killed and dozens wounded in the southern city of Basra, medical sources said, as security forces cleared a protest camp outside the provincial government headquarters.
Security forces also rounded up demonstrators in Basra.
And in the revered Shiite holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad, the tents of protesters were reduced to ashes when security forces fired searing hot tear gas canisters at them.