Published: Tue, January 21, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

3 rockets hit Bhagdad’s Green Zone near USA embassy

3 rockets hit Bhagdad’s Green Zone near USA embassy

Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds during clashes with anti-government protesters overnight and on Monday morning in Baghdad, wounding at least 13 demonstrators and prompting authorities to close key streets and thoroughfares leading to the city centre, officials said.

The dramatic escalation came after months of rocket attacks on Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, home to the USA embassy and other missions, as well as Iraqi bases where U.S. troops are deployed.

Alarms have reportedly been going off after the missile struck the Green Zone around the Iraqi capital at around 9.30pm local time.

As smoke rose over the city from the tear gas, tuk-tuks ferried the injured to hospitals.

Sirens could be heard across the zone immediately after the rockets made impact.

Demonstrators have feared their movement would be eclipsed by the geopolitical storm brewing between neighbouring Iran and the U.S., both close partners of Iraq. Two rockets fell in the Green Zone on January 8.

More than 450 people have been killed. A third later succumbed to his injuries, the officials said.

Six Iraqis including two police officers were killed and scores were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces, medical and security sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

"The security forces should stop shooting and maiming; who are they? and who are we?"

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The UN envoy to Iraq urged Iraqi political elites to resume pushing for reforms and for protests to remain peaceful.

She also called on protesters to remain peaceful, avoiding counterproductive violence and destruction of property, according to the statement.

Traffic was disrupted on a highway linking Baghdad to southern cities, a Reuters witness said. At least six protesters were wounded when an unknown gunmen fired at them from a speeding auto, a medical official said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tires and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara.

The latest escalation in protests started on Sunday night, hours before the end of a week deadline put previously by the demonstrators for the political blocs to come up with a new government.

The demonstrations first erupted in October over corruption, lack of jobs and poor services but escalated quickly to demand a total overhaul of government.

The anti-government movement had scored several successes before the USA strike diverted public attention.

Protesters scored one win in December with the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi-but he has stayed on in a caretaker role and political parties have thus far failed to agree on a successor.

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