Fighting erupts after Iraqi pol quits

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) — Fighting between rival Iraqi forces raged for a second day Tuesday with rocket fire echoing from Baghdad’s Green Zone where 23 supporters of powerful Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr have been shot dead, medics said.

The violence pits backers of Sadr against rival Shiite factions backed by neighboring Iran.

Overnight, shelling targeted the high-security Green Zone that houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, a security source said, amid angry protests after Sadr’s surprise announcement.

At least seven shells fell in the high-security Green Zone, the security source said on condition of anonymity, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible.

The security source said Sadr’s supporters opened fire at the Green Zone from the outside, adding security forces inside “were not responding.”

After a lull in violence, fresh clashes between Sadr’s supporters and the army and men of the Hashed al-Shaabi, former Tehran-backed paramilitaries integrated into the Iraqi forces, erupted again on Tuesday morning.

The rattle of automatic gunfire and heavier explosions of rocket-propelled grenades could be heard from the Green Zone, AFP correspondents reported.

An army-imposed nationwide curfew continued Tuesday and Baghdad was quiet, with shops shuttered and few cars venturing out on the streets.


Tensions have soared in Iraq amid a political crisis that has left the country without a new government, prime minister or president for months, and escalated sharply after

On Monday, shortly after he made his announcement, Sadr’s followers burst into the Republican Palace in Baghdad — where cabinet meetings are usually held — and initially celebrated including by cooling off in a swimming pool in the garden.

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