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Iraq: Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day amid escalating unrest

There were no immediate reports of casualties from strikes fired from the east of the city, and no claim of responsibility
Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr run for cover from tear gas fired by security forces amid clashes in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 28 September 2022
Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr run for cover from teargas fired by security forces amid clashes in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, on 28 September 2022

Four rockets fired from eastern Baghdad on Thursday landed around the Iraqi capital's Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, police said, as political unrest intensified.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes and no claim of responsibility, two police officers said.

A number of Shia militant groups have offices and supporters in eastern Baghdad.

A similar attack on Wednesday wounded seven members of the Iraqi security forces in the Green Zone, and appeared to add a new dimension to a contest among power-hungry politicians.

Rocket attacks on the Green Zone have been frequent in recent years, but they are normally directed at western targets by Iran-backed militia groups. Those attacks have been rare in recent months. 

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Iraq has endured a months-long political paralysis that has descended into violence. Its parliament met on Wednesday for the first time since deadly unrest in August, in order to vote on the resignation of its speaker, Mohammed al-Halbousi.

The vast majority of MPs, 222 out of 235, voted against Halbousi’s resignation, in what analysts had described as a vote of confidence.

Clashes in Tahrir Square

Iraq's deeply divided political factions have failed to form a new government since inconclusive elections in October 2021.

Although influential Shia Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was the biggest winner in the elections, he ordered his MPs to withdraw after failing to form a coalition government following months of stalemate. 

Iraq: Rockets fired at Green Zone as parliament convenes
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In late July, Halbousi suspended legislative sessions after Sadr ordered his followers to raid the parliament to block his rivals, the Iran-backed Coordination Framework, from forming a new government. The Sadrists have called for fresh elections.

Halbousi had initially backed Sadr's efforts but later broke with him, arguing that efforts to form a government with other factions should continue.

The standoff spiralled into street clashes in August, which killed dozens of people in central Baghdad.

On Tuesday night, Iraqi security forces sealed off the main roads and bridges leading to the Green Zone, which houses western embassies and government institutions, and imposed a curfew on buses, motorcycles and trucks.

Hundreds of Sadr followers demonstrated against the parliamentary session on Wednesday in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, which lies outside the Green Zone. Protesters clashed with security forces as they tried and failed to enter the Green Zone.

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