ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States Embassy in Iraq issued an alert on Monday to American citizens in the country regarding anti-government demonstrations set to resume on Tuesday.
The announcement, posted to the US Embassy’s Facebook page, said the alert only affects American personnel in “Baghdad and other major cities” in Iraq and not those in the Kurdistan Region.
“According to reports, demonstrations are expected to increase in size starting on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019,” the statement added, notifying US citizens of “a heavy security presence.”
Dec. 10 also marks the anniversary of the military defeat of the so-called Islamic State, a day that Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi had declared a national holiday. As such, the US Embassy statement warned that “International Zone checkpoints are expected to be closed, and traffic disruptions likely.”
The statement advised Americans to take precautionary measures and avoid travel to Iraq, while those in the country were told to “avoid areas of demonstrations…comply with directives from authorities, and to monitor local media for updates.”
The embassy frequently warns US citizens to maintain a heightened sense of security awareness and take appropriate measures to enhance their security at all times when living and working in Iraq.
Since they began in early October, widespread protests in Iraq have turned violent due to clashes with riot police and security forces.
Indeed, on Friday night, unidentified armed individuals killed at least 19 protesters, including three police officers, in stabbings and shootings. They also wounded upward to 70 others.
Over 460 people have died, most of them killed by Iraqi security forces, while 17,400 others have been wounded since the beginning of demonstrations in October.
The protests over the past two months reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, including high levels of unemployment, the dismal state of public services, and pervasive government corruption.
The parliament recently approved Abdul Mahdi’s resignation in response to protest demands.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany