Iraqi security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas in Baghdad Tuesday on anti-government protesters, medical officials said, injuring more than a dozen people.Interested in Iraq?Add Iraq as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Iraq news, video, and analysis from ABC News.IraqAdd InterestThe Tuesday afternoon rally began peacefully with more than 1,000 people marching into central Tahrir Square, when the police started throwing stun grenades and firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters.
With hundreds of people gathered in the square chanting anti-government slogans, riot policemen began to fire tear gas, scattering the mostly young male protesters, while others fell to the ground wiping their eyes. Some of the protesters responded by throwing stones at security forces, as others waved Iraqi flags above the water cannon.
We want this government to be changed. This is a government of political parties and militias, said Fadhel Saber, 21, who was participating in the protest because he is unable to find a job.The protesters said the government should be changed because of its failure to improve public services and create jobs.
Many also held posters of a popular army commander — Iraqs counterterrorism chief, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi — whose recent dismissal from office some blamed on Iran-backed politicians in the country.Iraqis largely credit al-Saadi with leading the fight against the Islamic State group.Medical officials said 15 protesters were hit with rubber bullets while 35 others suffered breathing problems because of the tear gas.
They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Iraqi health ministry regulations.Over the past months, protests in different parts of Iraq, including the southern city of Basra, have left scores of people injured.State-run news agency reported that after the protest took place, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi gave orders for the government to assist university graduates to find jobs.
The protesters included dozens of fresh university graduates who are unable to find jobs in the corruption-plagued but oil-rich country.Mohammed Kadhim, a 27-year-old resident of Baghdad, said the current government is full of empty promises and lies.Also Tuesday, Iraqs Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim ordered the temporary closing of the countrys consulate in the Iranian city of Mashhad.
The details of the incident were not immediately clear, but an Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Iranian authorities had detained several Iraqi diplomats in the city after they were attacked.Mashhad is a major center of pilgrimage for Shiite Muslims, who are the majority sect in both Iran and Iraq.
.Iraq is in the middle of tensions between the U.S. and Iran since the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year.———Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed reporting...