After clashes leave 24 dead, an Iraqi Shiite cleric tells supporters to return home.

Image Twitter @IraqLiveUpdate

After a prominent cleric announces his exit from politics, there are riots in Baghdad’s Green Zone that result in at least 24 deaths. Following calls for a thorough retreat from the Green Zone in Baghdad, Muqtada al-supporters Sadr’s start to leave the region. Supporters of Al-Sadr opened fire on the Green Zone with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Security personnel opened fire.

Since al-party Sadr’s received the biggest number of seats in the October legislative elections, but not enough to win a majority government, Iraq’s government has remained impassed. Between al-Shiite Sadr’s supporters and his Iran-backed Shiite enemies, this resulted in months of political infighting until it became violent on Monday.

When al-Sadr declared he would leave politics, mayhem ensued. Many saw the move as a ruse to increase his influence, and his supporters attacked the Green Zone, which used to be the U.S. military’s bastion but is now the location of the Iraqi government and foreign embassies. They soon broke through the government palace’s walls and barraged its opulent salons and marbled halls.

Al-Sadr is scheduled to give a speech after announcing his political exit two days earlier.

Although the borders with neighboring Iraq have reopened, Iranian authorities have cautioned civilians to exercise caution because of the fragile tranquility. The land border crossings at Mehran, Qasr-e Shirin, and Chazabeh, according to local officials, were reopened on Tuesday afternoon.

Travelers who were not already headed to the crossings were asked to “wait one more day” so that Iranian officials could ensure their safety and security. Flights to Iraq have also commenced, according to Vahidi.

“I had resolved not to interfere in political affairs, but I now announce my definitive retirement and the closing of all [Sadrist] institutions,” Mr. Sadr said in a statement. Some of the churches associated with his movement will continue to be open.

Later, according to INA, the official news agency of Iraq, Mr. Sadr also declared he would go on a hunger strike until the use of violence and weaponry ceased.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Sadr, 48, has dominated Iraqi public and political life. After the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, his Mehdi Army emerged as one of the most potent militias that battled US and allied Iraqi government forces.

 

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Image Credit Twitter @IraqLiveUpdate

 

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