Farsi-speaking Iranians, not Iraqi forces, have been firing on protests in Iraq in which 65 people have died, said one protester interviewed by Reuters, according to Al Arabiya.
“There is no work, you come to protest, they fire at you. Live gunfire. They are all Iranian speaking in Farsi. You want to speak to them they answer in Farsi. The Iraqis would not fire at you,” said the unnamed protester.
— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) October 3, 2019
Witnesses at the protests in Baghdad said that pro-Iranian security forces opened fire on protesters.
Protests broke out throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.
The protests have no clear leader and seem to consist of gatherings of angry protesters.
A video being circulated on social media appears to show the Iraqi flag being raised over the Iranian embassy in Iraq during the protests. Additional videos showed protesters burning Iranian flags.
— Laieth Alrawi (@alrawi_laieth) October 4, 2019
Iran closed two border crossings with Iraq due to the protests. One of the crossings was later reopened.
Last week, a top commander from Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service was decommissioned in a move that may have been pushed for by the PMF.
Ghaleb al-Shabandar, a political commentator, described the move as “the beginning of the Iraqi army’s dismantling and handover to the Hashed and other armed groups.”
The hashtag “We are all Abdulwahab al-Saadi” began trending on Twitter with pictures of the commander aiding civilians in Mosul and other cities, as Iraqis across the country responded with shock.
“He won the people’s friendship but the (politicians’) hatred,” said one supporter, while another said that there was “no more space for patriots in this country.”
The Shia religious authority in Iraq endorsed the protests and warned against the “serious repercussions” of violence and counter-violence, according to Al Arabiya. The authority proposed the formation of an anti-corruption committee and said that job opportunities must be provided by the government.