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Powerful Iraqi cleric orders supporters to leave Green Zone

After deadly clashes, Muqtada Al-Sadr threatened that his people would disavow him unless they retreated.

An influential Iraqi politician, whose supporters were engaged in deadly clashes with his political opponents this week, ordered his activists to leave Baghdad’s Green Zone on Tuesday.

Muqtada a-Sadr made threats to his Sadrist members during a Najaf media conference. He demanded that they leave the Parliament building and get out of the government area in an hour. According to reports, many demonstrators responded immediately.

He expressed his regret at the violence and offered his apology to the Iraqi people.

Minutes after al-Sadr’s call, the Iraqi military lifted a nationwide curfew, which was imposed in response to a surge of violence that engulfed Baghdad’s government area on Monday. 

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Tensions rose in Baghdad after al-Sadr declared his intention to withdraw from politics amid constitutional crises in Iraq. His followers responded by flooding to the city’s center. They clashed against his Shiite rivals as well as Iraqi security force personnel. Reports say that more than twenty people died in fighting, while hundreds were also injured.

The politician’s movement won the largest number of seats in parliament during the election in October last year, but was unable to form a ruling coalition. He believes the parliament should be disbanded for failing to appoint an elected president on time.

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