Three dead as Iraqi forces fire on pro-militia protesters

Three people were killed when Iraqi security forces fired on protesters loyal to pro-Iranian militias demonstrating against recent election results.

At least three people were killed on Friday and dozens more were injured when Iraqi security forces fired on pro-militia protesters in and around Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

The demonstrators were demonstrating against recent election results which gave political groups linked to pro-Iranian militias, most of which are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia coalition, a low number of seats in Iraq’s new parliament.

Iraqi media sources released footage of injured pro-militia protesters on Friday, while eyewitnesses reported that security forces burned trees near the Green Zone to prevent protesters from advancing, according to the arab 21 news site.

The Green Zone is a high-security zone housing the United States Embassy, ​​Iraqi government offices, and the Iraqi High Electoral Commission.

A security source said AFP that the demonstrators had thrown projectiles and “blocked… access to the green zone” on three sides, before being pushed back by the security forces.

Iraq held parliamentary elections on October 10 and the Sairoon Alliance, led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, became the largest party winning 73 seats out of a 329-seat parliament.

Al-Sadr previously had an ambivalent relationship with Iran.

By contrast, the Fatah Alliance, which is linked to pro-Iranian militias, performed relatively poorly, winning only 17 seats, compared to 48 in the previous parliament.

Following the contested results, the Iraqi High Electoral Commission conducted manual recounts at various polling stations, but this did not change the overall picture.

This week, the electoral commission announced that in 2,000 stations, the manual recounts had given the same results as the initial counts by machine.

Pro-Iranian militias, however, have vowed to step up protests against the results, calling them a “fraud”.

Iraq’s parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to take place in 2022, but were touted as a concession to activists who staged protests against poverty and government corruption from late 2019.

However, anti-corruption activists largely boycotted the election.

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