Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

Riot police fire tear gas during clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti Government protesters in Baghdad Iraq Thursday Nov. 14 2019. (AP P

The officials say the clashes happened in the Khilani area, not far from the epicenter of the protest movement in Tahrir Square, hours after demonstrators celebrated Iraq's 2-1 World Cup qualifier win over Iran.

Within the southern port city of Basra and in cities like Nasiriyah, Amara and Kut, protesters established tires ablaze to shut off streets, retaining workers members from reaching their do the job locations. Schools, universities and other institutions closed for the day.

In parts of Baghdad, particularly the sprawling Sadr City neighbourhood, protesters sat in the middle of the streets to prevent employees from getting to their workplaces.

At least 320 protesters have been killed by security forces over the past month since the protests began over corruption, worsening living conditions, a lack of jobs, and poor basic services.

"There will be no offices open until the previous corrupt human being is removed" an individual protester reported, declining to be decided for security motives.

Numerous protests, particularly in the southern Shi'ite-majority region, have been directed toward the heavy foreign influence in the country, including that of neighboring Iran, which has supported the Shi'ite militias in Iraq that helped defeat IS.

Meanwhile, an improvised explosive device went off in Baghdad's Tayaran Square, killing two people and injuring 12, Iraqi security sources said late on Friday.

An anti-government protester in Iraq was killed by a direct hit to the head from a tear gas canister amid fresh clashes on a strategic Baghdad bridge, security and medical officials said. "Only then we will pull out from right here". Security forces had deployed Sunday on the other side of the bridge and erected concrete barriers to keep protesters from pushing into Green Zone.

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More than 300 people have been killed since the beginning of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Protesters had repeatedly regrouped from under clouds of tear gas as they fought to tear down a concrete wall blocking access to Khilani Square.

"By more clearly siding with the protesters, Sistani made one of his boldest moves yet, the outcome of which may determine the balance of power within the Shiite community and Iraqi politics for years to come".

Demonstrations have mostly been taking place in Baghdad's Tahrir and Khilani squares and the predominantly Shia southern provinces, following tough measures by Iraqi security forces to clamp down on protests. "What comes after the protests is not the same as before, so be careful", he warned.

"We'll keep up our protest and general strike with all Iraqis until we force the government to resign", said Hassaan al Tufan, a lawyer and activist.

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Near the capital's main protest camp in Tahrir (Liberation) Square, demonstrators chose to hold their ground after hearing the Shiite religious leadership, or "marjaiyah". Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.

"These steps, these reforms are just an opiate for the masses".

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