Clashes in Baghdad kill 2 and wound dozens

Iraq protests revive amid anger at slow pace of reform

The casualties occurred on Monday as security forces were trying to disperse protesters near the Muhammad al-Qasim Highway, central Baghdad, according to the official who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

While protesters have criticised the USA, they have directly accused Iran of hindering Iraq politically and economically.

The rallies demanding an overhaul of the ruling system have rocked parts of Iraq since October, but had thinned out in recent weeks amid rising Iran-US tensions.

In the Iraqi oil city of Basra, two policemen were struck and killed by a civilian auto during a protest, security sources said.

Iraqi activists in Nasiriyah had given the government a week's deadline to act on their demands for sweeping political reforms. otherwise they said they would up the pressure with new demonstrations. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

The uprising began on October 1 when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to decry rampant government corruption, poor public services and a scarcity of jobs.

Numbers dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington's killing of Tehran's top general in an air strike inside Iraq.

Iraqi political figures have since ramped up their calls for foreign forces - including some 5,200 United States troops - to leave the country.

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Supporters of the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr say they are organizing a mass protest this week supporting calls for the ousting of American troops from Iraq in response to the USA drone attack. Both sides are Iraqis.

Three Katyusha rockets fell on Tuesday inside Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions, Iraqi police sources told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Iraq's parliament postponed a critical session on Sunday due to lack of quorum.

They said Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

On Sunday, protesters in Baghdad and southern Iraq burned tires, blocking main streets.

Protests were also held in the southern provinces of Najaf, Dhi Qar, Karbala and Basra. However, al-Sadr has emerged as a supporter of the movement.

The statement came amid escalation in demonstrations as hundreds of demonstrators have been holed up in a sit-in protest for more than three months in downtown Baghdad.

Among the dead was Yousif Sattar, 21, a local journalist covering the protest movement, one medical official and an activist said.

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