Iraq replaces Basra security commander, airport under fire: official

The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul

Basra ( A security commander for southern Iraq’s Basra province has been replaced as violence rages amid popular protests decrying poor services.

Iraqi website Al-Mirbad quoted Yahia Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraq Security Media Center saying in a statement that Lit. Gen. Gamil al-Shamri was replaced by Rasheed Feleih as commander of Basra Operations.

Rasoul said in his statement that the replacement came after protests left severe damage to several facilities in the province.

Protests have recently caused the province’s government office and the Iranian consulate to catch fire.

Meanwhile, Rasoul revealed that four mortar missiles were fired on Basra Airport, but pointed that all of them fell near the airport’s outer fence.

Rasoul assured that aviation at the airport was not affected by the incident.

Health authorities were quoted saying that violence since yesterday have left three more protesters dead. Authorities earlier counted at least seven fatalities.

Demonstrators have voiced anger over water contamination and poor public services in the province, renewing earlier protests in July  that followed the parliament polls held in May.

The budding Iraqi parliament, which has yet to determine its largest bloc, is scheduled to hold an emergency session today to discuss the situation in Basra.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed yesterday to address protesters’ demands but warned against sabotage.

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