After the unification of the leading political forces in Iraq on a decisive action against the protest movement, the violence has escalated: in the capital Baghdad in bloody clashes with security forces were killed nine demonstrators in Southern Basra three protesters were killed.
Amnesty International warned of a "bloodbath". Previously, the key political actors had, according to figures from negotiating circles behind the controversial Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and asked to take action against the government-critical protest movement "by all means".
Parts of Baghdad resembled a battlefield at the weekend. Nine demonstrators were killed on Saturday at the central protest camp on Tahrir Square, according to medical experts by shots or tear gas grenades. The security forces tried to gain access to the square and to dissolve the protests, according to AFP protesters.
By dawn on Saturday, security forces had recaptured control of the Tigris bridges Al-Sinak, Al-Shuhada and Al-Ahrar with massive use of tear gas, AFP reporters reported. The three bridges connected the protest camps on the eastern Tigris shore with the western river bank, where government offices and foreign embassies are based.
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The Al-Sinak Bridge has been the main connection of the demonstrators to the embassy of Iran. Parts of the protest movement accuse the neighboring country of supporting the government in Baghdad, to which they accuse corruption. The bridges Al-Ahrar and Al-Shuhada lead to the office of Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi and the headquarters of the state television.
On Sunday, demonstrators and security forces fought again, this time on Khalani Square in the city center. The security forces used tear gas, dozens of protesters sought protection from the salvos.
In the south of Iraq, security forces used force against protesters. In Karbala, nothing remained of the tents of camping protesters but ashes after the security forces fired tear gas at the camp. In Basra, security forces released a protest camp. According to doctors, the operation killed three people. In Nassiriya security forces used tear gas against demonstrators.
Amnesty International called on the Iraqi government to immediately stop "illegal" use of live ammunition against protesters. The UN representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, claims to receive daily information on "killed, abducted, arbitrarily detained, beaten or intimidated demonstrators".
After days of talks, the long-disputed Iraqi political forces had agreed to support Abdel Mahdi, the head of government under pressure from the protests. They agreed, according to high-ranking politicians, on the need for reform and for ending the protest movement "by all means".
Previously, the powerful commander of the Iranian al-Quds forces, Qassem Soleimani, had won two important supporters for the Mahdi government during talks in Najaf, it was said from informed sources. These are the populist preacher and politician Moqtada al-Sadr and the son of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Mohammed Reda Sitan.
Sadr had demanded the resignation of Abdel Mahdi's government since the beginning of October. Grand Ayatollah Sistani denied that he was part of an agreement in support of the government and the bloody end of the demonstrations.
In Baghdad and several southern Iraqi cities, a protest movement was formed in early October against corruption and high unemployment in the country, which is now calling for the overthrow of the government. According to an AFP count, nearly 300 people have been killed since the protests began on October 1. The government has recently published no more current figures on deaths.