Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Iran reopens land borders to Iraq as deadly Baghdad protests come to end

Iran reopens its land borders to Iraq, allowing Karbala-bound pilgrims to enter the Western neighbor as calm begins to return to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, following two days of deadly protests.

Iranian media reported on Tuesday that the Mehran, Khosravi and Shalamcheh border crossings resumed operations, a day after they were shut down due to a wave of ugly street protests in Baghdad by supporters of an influential Shia cleric, which hindered state affairs in the Arab country.

Tehran closed the border crossings to Iraq and suspended flights to Iraq for the safety of pilgrims, who have been heading to Najaf and Karbala in large numbers to mark Arba’een.

The borders were reopened following an order by powerful Iraq cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for his followers to end their protests in Baghdad on Tuesday, easing a confrontation that caused the deadliest violence in the Iraqi capital in years.

The violence erupted on Monday after Sadr announced that he was quitting politics and closing his political offices amid a political deadlock that has hindered government formation in Iraq since last October’s parliamentary elections.

At least 30 people died in clashes between Sadr’s supporters and rival protesters who countered them.

Upon Sadr’s call, Iraqi protesters, many of whom were armed, withdrew from the high-security Green Zone in Baghdad.

Iraq also lifted a curfew that had been placed in Baghdad in the wake of the mayhem.

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