Iraq unrest: 15 killed in fresh wave of protests

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At least 15 people have been killed in Iraq in a fresh wave of protests in the southern city of Nasiriya.

Security forces opened fire and used tear gas on Thursday to clear two bridges blocked by protesters. At least 150 people were injured.

Iraqis have been taking to the streets to demand more jobs, an end to corruption, and better public services.

The Iraqi military announced it was setting up military “crisis cells” to quell unrest.

The military command said an emergency unit had been created to “impose security and restore order”.

“On the orders of the commander in chief of the armed forces, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, some military commanders have been appointed to this unit to direct and control all security and military forces and assist the governors in their mission,” it said in a statement.

Sources told the BBC that the demonstrators in Nasiriya were now “in control” of the situation in the city and were “chasing the police in the streets and alleys.”

Iraq’s anti-government protests have been directed mainly at the country’s political leaders.

Smoke billows from burning tyres blocking a bridge over the Euphrates River in the centre of the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah where demonstrators carried on with anti-government protests on November 12, 2019

But many of those taking part have also expressed anger at Iran’s influence over Iraq’s internal affairs, which has steadily grown since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. On Wednesday, the Iranian consulate in the city of Najaf was attacked.

Protesters accuse Iran of complicity in what they see as Iraq’s governance failure and corruption.

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