Baghdad: Iraqi security forces on Saturday reopened bridges, squares and roads across the country, which were blocked during the past few months by anti-government protests over lack of jobs and basic service.
A statement by the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) said that the security forces reopened al-Ahrar Bridge and the squares of Tayran and Cordoba and nearby highway named Mohammed al-Qassim, reports Xinhua news agency.
The BOC also said that the security forces and Baghdad municipality started to clean the scenes and lift concrete barricades in al-Khalani Square near al-Tahrir Square, and the security forces are preparing to reopen al-Sinak Bridge in downtown Baghdad.
A lesser number of protesters are still holed up in al-Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Iraq’s anti-government protests since last October.
In southern Iraq, the security forces reopened many squares and bridges in the provinces of Diwaniyah and Dhi Qar, while in Basra the security forces burned some tents of the protesters as they reopened their protest areas, according to local media reports.
The advance of the security forces came hours after the supporters of the prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the demonstrations centres in the Iraqi cities, shortly after a tweet by al-Sadr, who accused some of the protester of being supported from outside Iraq.
“However, from now I will try not to interfere with them, neither negatively or positively, until they take into account the fate of Iraq,” al-Sadr said in his tweet.
Al-Sadr’s accusation came after some protesters refused to participate in his massive demonstration on Friday, in which he called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from Iraq through using all peaceful means.
The demonstration came after the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq on January 5, two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport which killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.
Mass anti-government demonstrations have been launched in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more job opportunities.