Iraqi premier to reopen heavily fortified Green Zone during Eid al-Fitr

Iraqi security forces close a bridge leading to the Green Zone during protests demanding services and jobs in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 14, 2018. AP

Baghdad ( – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has ordered the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad to be open during Eid al-Fitr, his media office said.

The 10-square-kilometer area, which is home to several government buildings and foreign embassies, will be open for 24 hours as of the first day of Eid al-Fitr, slated for Tuesday, June 4, said the office in a press statement.

Eid al-Fitr is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. It is a holiday in almost all Islamic countries.

The move is expected to be warmly welcomed by the Iraqi people as the zone’s closure was seen as a symbol of the isolation of Iraq’s rulers from citizens.

The closure of the governmental area also caused considerable traffic disruption in the city of seven million people.

The zone on the bank of the Tigris River has been largely off limits to ordinary Iraqis due to security concerns since the 2003 U.S. invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The zone is a home to several government buildings and foreign embassies, including that of the United States. Checkpoints and concrete barriers have for years blocked bridges and highways leading into the zone.

The government area has witnessed several protests over the past few years, demanding an end to widely-spread corruption and improvement of public services.

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