Protests ongoing in Baghdad and several southern Iraqi provinces have left at least 13 demonstrators dead and over 700 wounded as of Monday, July 23. Most injuries reported have been minor, and due to unarmed fighting and likely to tear gas inhalation. Hundreds of protesters have also been arrested over the past two weeks in the demonstrations; most of those arrested have since been released. Demonstrations have notably been held in Baghdad's Tahrir Square in recent days, in addition to parts of the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Karbala, Babil, and Qadisiyah. Iraqi authorities have restricted access to the Internet across the country to suppress protest activity. Several regional airlines have also recently diverted or canceled flights to Najaf International Airport (NJF) due to concerns over continuing unrest.
Additional protests are expected in southern Iraq and Baghdad in the coming days. Further cuts to Internet and social media access are also to be anticipated nationwide in the near-term. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are expected near protest sites. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
The ongoing protests, focused in southern Iraq, have been organized to denounce corruption, unemployment, and the perceived inadequate provision of public services, such as water and electricity.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments. Travelers flying to or from NJF should contact their airline for additional information.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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