Iraqi forces fire tear gas as anti-government protesters approach Baghdad’s fortified ‘Green Zone’

Tear gas was fired as hundreds of protesters gathered in Baghdad’s Green Zone, a heavily fortified area that houses Iraq’s parliament and foreign embassies, on Saturday.

A regular parliamentary session was to be held.

Earlier, demonstrators removed cement barricades leading to the area to protest the formation of the next government by Iranian-backed parties.

The protesters are supporters of influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who has called for protests against the formation of the next government by political groups backed by Iran.

Al-Sadr’s party walked out of government formation talks in June, giving rivals in the framework alliance the majority they needed to move the process forward.

Many protesters wore black to mark the days leading up to Ashura, which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most important figures in Shia Islam.

Al-Sadr’s messages to his followers used this important day in Shia Islam to trigger protests.

Al-Sadr used his wide bases as leverage against his rivals.

(IMAGE: AP (representative)

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