Iraqi army says excessive force used to disperse Baghdad protests

Protesters in Baghdad. Photograph: Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

Baghdad ( – The Iraqi military admitted on Monday that its personnel used excessive force to disperse protests in a district of the Iraqi capital Baghdad last night.

A mass protest led to clashes last nights, leaving 13 people dead, medics and security forces told AFP Monday.

“Excessive force outside the rules of engagement was used and we have begun to hold accountable those commanding officers who carried out these wrong acts,” the military said in a statement.

Reuters, however, reported that 15 people were killed in clashes in eastern Baghdad overnight, citing police and medical sources.

The decision to withdraw army forces comes after at least eight people were killed and 25 wounded in fresh clashes between protesters and police in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, police and medical sources said.

Sunday’s events added to a death toll of more than 100 people killed over days of violent protests. Police, backed by the army, used live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowds at two separate locations in Sadr City, police said.

The protests pose the biggest security and political challenge for Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s government since it took power a year ago, and have revived fears of a new spiral of violence that could suck in influential militia groups.

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