Violent clashes between rival Iraqi forces have left 23 people dead and several others injured after protesters stormed a government palace and staged an impromptu pool party.
According to Mail Online, the clashes broke out in Baghdad after powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced he was quitting politics, a decision he said was in response to the failure of other Shi’ite leaders and parties to reform a corrupt and decaying governing system.
Shortly after Sadr made the announcement on Monday August 29, his loyalists stormed the government’s Republican Palace and jumped into a swimming pool while cheering and waving flags.
The celebrations turned to violence, with Sadr’s supporters clashing with rival Shi’ite factions backed by neighbouring Iran.
On Tuesday, supporters of Sadr fired rocket-propelled grenades into Iraq’s Green Zone, as Iraqi security forces were firing back at them.
The report said at least seven shells fell in the high-security Green Zone on Monday night, a security source said on condition of anonymity, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi said ‘security, military forces, or armed men’ were prohibited from opening fire on protesters.
The United States also urged calm amid the ‘disturbing’ reports, while France called on ‘the parties to exercise the utmost restraint’.