Iraqi Security Forces Kill Over 100 Protesters. U.S. Expresses Concern

Oil wells set alight by ISIL are visible from the newly retaken Iraqi town of al-Hud, outside Mosul, where IOM distributed 350 non-food item kits to recently displaced families. UN Photo: IOM / Jennifer Sparks (representational image)
Oil wells set alight by ISIL are visible from the newly retaken Iraqi town of al-Hud, outside Mosul, where IOM distributed 350 non-food item kits to recently displaced families. UN Photo: IOM / Jennifer Sparks (representational image)

As nationwide protests have erupted in Iraq over corruption and economic turmoil in the country, reports suggest that the Iraqi security forces have killed over 100 protesters and more than 6,000 have been injured.

The protests that intensified during this month (October 2019) are believed to be the deadliest protests in Iraq since the end of the civil war against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in September 2017.

Meanwhile, the U.S. which has been helping Iraq combat ISIS threats, has expressed its deep anguish over the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

In a statement issued Sunday, Morgan Ortagus, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said that the United States is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and calls on all sides to reject the cycle of violence.

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“We extend our condolences to the families of those killed during the demonstrations this weekend. We mourn the loss of life and wish those injured a swift and full recovery,” the statement added.

The U.S. is particularly concerned over Iraqi government’s decision to curb the press freedom during the protests. “Press freedom must be upheld,” the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a tweet today.

According to the State Department, the U.S. is deeply concerned about the forced closure of media outlets and the pressure to censor reporting about the protests.

“Press freedom is inherent to democratic reform. We support the fundamental right to freedom of expression, constitutionally granted to all media organizations, and the right of journalists to practice their profession in safety,” the statement added.

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Rakesh Raman