Iraqi prime minister announces investigation into protest violence in Baghdad
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's caretaker prime minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, on Saturday announced he was forming a high-level investigative committee to look into violent events that took place the day before during demonstrations by followers of Iranian-backed militias that have disputed the results of last month's national election.
The Joint Operations Command, which coordinates police and military forces in Iraq, said in a statement that the committee, whose membership includes members of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) militias, began its work "to uncover the circumstances and repercussions that led to the deaths and injuries of Iraqi security forces and supporters of the parties rejecting the election results."
Violent clashes erupted in central Baghdad between government forces and protesters affiliated with Iranian-backed militias of the PMF, which did not gain the seats they'd hoped for in the next Council of Representatives.
Read More: Iraqi security forces, supporters of Iran-backed militias clash in central Baghdad
Kadhimi said he had ordered, "compensation of the victims and decided to personally supervise the progress of the investigation work and the measures required to ensure the victims' rights."
The clashes took place after police fired tear gas and live ammunition in the air, while dozens of protesters threw stones and tried to advance towards the fortified Green Zone, which houses many government buildings and foreign embassies.
Sources in Baghdad who spoke to Kurdistan 24 said that the confrontations resulted in the death of one protester and the injury of at least 300 others from both sides, although media close to the PMF says the death toll numbers four protesters.
Among the forces that made the biggest gains in the elections is influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who ostensibly opposes Iranian interference in Iraqi politics despite close Tehran connections of his own, has called on all remaining Western forces to withdraw from the country.
Parties close to the PMF, as well as some others, have openly rejected the election results, claiming irregularities in the vote casting and counting processes, but have not provided compelling evidence for their allegations.