An Iraqi protester was killed in Baghdad by a tear gas canister fired at close range by security forces, according to Iraqi media citing medical and police sources. He is the third Iraqi civilian to die in the capital in 24 hours, following the police crackdown on the new wave of anti-government protests in the Country. In the clashes, there were about twenty wounded.The other two killed demonstrators had been hit in the face by tear gas canisters.
The remonstrations have resumed in recent days due to the lack of essential services in Iraq, such as electricity and drinking water. Since October, more than 550 protesters and activists have died in Iraq during the repression of the protests by the police, security forces, and pro-Iranian armed militias co-opted by the government.Tens of thousands of young Iraqis took to the streets against the rampant government corruption, poor services, including electricity and unemployment.
The pressure of the protests led to the resignation of the then Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. His successor, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, has promised to meet the demands of the demonstrators by holding early elections and investigating the deaths of the dissidents.But al-Kadhimi also faces an unprecedented economic crisis spurred by falling oil prices and the new coronavirus health emergency.
Also because of the protests, Iraq has been experiencing an exponential increase in COVID-19 infections in the last two weeks. According to Worldometer, from the beginning of the pandemic, Iraq registered 115,332 cases and 4,535 deaths.
The country is also engaged in the fight against terrorism. The Iraqi army has announced the launch of the fourth phase of a military operation against the self-proclaimed Islamic state in the eastern province of Diyala. The army, the police and the popular mobilization forces (PMU) take part in the operation, with a majority of Shiites.
According to a statement from the Iraqi Armed Forces, the fourth phase of the “Heroes of Iraq” operation was launched on 11 July after Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi’s visit to Diyala, who promised on this occasion to counter any threat that came by terrorist groups.
Iraq has suffered from the repercussions of the Syrian civil war since 2012, due to an intense exchange of guerrillas between Islamist groups operating in eastern Syria and those in western Iraq. In 2013 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, announced the union of his group with the Syrian al-Nusra, the main Islamist movement of the local guerrilla.
In early 2014, this group took control of the city of Falluja and a large part of the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar, as well as eastern Syria, and then expanded between June and July to the north and east, taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and going as far as the territory of Kurdistan.
In this period, it proclaims the creation of a universal caliphate led by his leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-styled Caliph Ibrahim. The advance of IS was stopped by US raids and Kurdish and Shiite militias, until the recent killing of the leader by the US.
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