Security forces clashed with anti-government protesters who gathered in Baghdad's Khilani and Tahrir squares on Thursday, April 23. Security forces fired tear gas and protesters responded by throwing stones and glass bottles. There were no immediate reports of any casualties in the clashes.
Anti-government protests resumed this week after a relatively quiet period following the introduction of restrictions on gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On Tuesday, April 21, one person was killed and four others injured amid related violent protests in the capital.
Additional related protests and clashes are likely as Iraq faces more political instability in the coming weeks. A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1, 2019, to protest alleged government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relatively calm demonstrations, violence resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government issuing them to produce a report on the members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) that were responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 670 people have been killed and over 24,400 people have been wounded since the protests began.
Individuals in Baghdad are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, anticipate a heightened security presence, budget ample travel time, and obey instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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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