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Central Baghdad is a battlefield and demonstrators hold out “until the overthrow of the government”

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — “We are not mendes”, echoed by Sayed repeatedly on his way to Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, in response to the prime minister’s accusations of protesters who confirmed the continuation of their movement, which entered its fourth day, violating the prime minister’s promises “until Overthrow the government.”

The first Friday of protests in Baghdad was not like any Friday in the city.

Although congestion usually eases on the first weekend, the capital seemed divided.

The outskirts of Baghdad were a ghost town, and even some routine security checkpoints were empty of their soldiers. But the center has become a battleground between security forces and demonstrators, who began arriving early in the morning, as those heading to work.

Police blocked the main and secondary streets with concrete blocks and armored vehicles. The buzzing of bullets was dense on the streets leading to the assembly square, as trucks and buses carrying masked protesters hoisted Iraqi flags and took refuge from the shaded sidewalks of the Husseiniya flags before sheltering.

Every now and then a truck passes back and forth with a coffin, which AFP could not confirm was carrying dead.

“We are not indifferent, but we have come to claim our rights, nothing to lose,” the 32-year-old unemployed told AFP.

– “Even if you kill” –

The government has accused “mendesine” and “non-peaceful aggressors” of causing casualties during the protests.

“What do renters with children do? I am one of the people who do not know their fate, I do not have a job, I do not have a home and I am confused how I will secure a living for my children. We want a radical change. Either we are actually changing or I will not withdraw even if I kill.”

The wave of protests that began Tuesday in Iraq entered its fourth day, in a test that seems so far difficult for the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi, which has been nearly a year since its formation.

The prime minister’s speech to the Iraqi people on Thursday night was not so convincing to the demonstrators that some of them criticized its timing by saying “even drunks sleep at the time.”

The government’s handling of the crisis, and the harsh handling of demonstrators by security forces using live bullets, escalated the confrontation on the street.

“I have been in the demonstrations for three days,” said a masked protester, who declined to be named.

The violence called for a comment from the Shia religious authority, which on Friday announced support for the protesters’ demands, but at the same time drew attention to “riots” and left the door open to the government to seize the opportunity to absorb the anger of the street with reform “before it is too late.”

“With respect to the Marjaiya, it did nothing for us … what did the Marjaiya do? In 2014, when ISIS reached the outskirts of Baghdad, we who fought after the fatwa, and today they left us,” he said.

“This is a country of oil and good things … I dug here three meters deep and you see oil and we are hungry!”

– “Tuk Tuk” is a crucial element “-

In addition, the authorities cut off the Internet in the country and blocked any possibility of communication between protesters and abroad. They were waiting for anyone to come to pull out their phones and show their violence in the protest.

From burning tires to indiscriminate gunfire and a mass escape of demonstrators in front of them, to the transport of wounded and wounded.

“The tuk-tuk is essential,” said 20-year-old tuk-tuk driver Ali Abdul-Redha.

“We also take the wounded who are injured inside the demonstration yards to nearby hospitals. We do this for free,” said Abdel Reda, who works daily in the “demonstration season” from 6 am (0400 GMT) to 8 pm (18.00 GMT). We consider it a source of livelihood, for the country.”

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