133 injured in protests as Iraq’s parliament reconvenes

Baghdad: At least 122 members of the security services and 11 protesters were injured in clashes as Iraq’s parliament reconvened after a nearly two-month shutdown amid political impasse.

In a statement on Wednesday, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said clashes erupted in the afternoon after hundreds of protesters, most of them supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square before they could remove concrete blocks to cross over to the nearby al-Jumhouriyah Bridge in an attempt to make their way to the fortified Green Zone, which houses the parliament, other government buildings and foreign missions.

The clashes came during a session of parliament in which 222 lawmakers voted against the resignation of Mohammed al-Halbusi as speaker, Xinhua news agency reported.

During the session, three rockets fell around 3:30 pm in the Green Zone, injuring seven people, the JOC statement said.

Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for Iraq’s commander-in-chief, said one of the three rockets landed in front of the parliament building, damaging nearby vehicles and buildings.

Wednesday’s development came after parliament suspended its sessions on July 30 after thousands of al-Sadr supporters began an open sit-in at the building.

In the recent past, ongoing disputes between Shiite parties have prevented the formation of a new Iraqi government, making it unable to elect a new president with a two-thirds majority in the 329-seat parliament.

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