[size=36]The protests are trying to regain momentum in Iraq despite pressure from the security forces[/size]
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The Iraqi security forces used live bullets on Sunday to disperse demonstrators in the capital and the south of the country for the second consecutive day, which sparked confrontations with protesters bent on continuing their movement.
Violence has renewed in Baghdad and the southern cities this week, as more than 15 people have died as anti-government activists intensified road closures and sit-ins while security forces sought to end the campaign.
Four demonstrators were martyred in Iraq on Saturday, while the authorities reopened squares and streets in Baghdad and southern cities, which raised protesters' fears of the widening campaign and the breaking of demand protests that have been going on for nearly four months.
Therefore, the protesters returned in large numbers during the evening and Sunday morning, and the security forces tried to disperse them again.
In the capital, security forces used live bullets in an attempt to disperse small gatherings in the Al-Khulani and Al-Wathba areas, close to the central protest camp in Tahrir Square, in the center of the capital, according to a police source.
The source said, "At least 17 protesters were wounded, including six by gunfire."
For their part, the young protesters threw stones at the riot police and threw Molotov cocktails at them.
- "No accountability" -
student demonstrations started on Sunday morning from the universities of Baghdad to Tahrir Square, and other marches led by students are scheduled for this week.
In Nasiriyah in the south, security forces used live bullets at the demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them from the streets around the central Al-Haboubi Square in the city.
A medical source said, "At least fifty demonstrators were wounded by live bullets, while about a hundred others were suffocated by tear gas canisters."
The demonstrators gathered there in large numbers after the police reopened the main streets of the city.
The protesters call for early elections under a new electoral law, an independent prime minister and accountability for corrupt officials and those who have ordered the use of violence against the demonstrators.
Parliament passed a new electoral law, and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi submitted his resignation in December, but he remains in the caretaker position, and the authorities have failed to respond to the protesters' demands in this regard.
"The lack of accountability and hesitation does not deserve the hopes of the Iraqis, who have expressed it courageously for four months now," said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Iraq, Jenin Hennes-Blackshart, on Saturday.
She added that "while the number of martyrs and the wounded continue to rise, the steps taken so far will remain hollow if not completed."
- Al-Sadr withdraws support -
Activists have long worried that their movement may end after the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Friday that he would not interfere in the required movement.
Sadr, who controls the "Saeron" coalition, the largest political bloc in parliament, backed the protests first in the beginning of October, and called on the government to resign.
But he called for a separate demonstration to demand the departure of 5,200 American soldiers from Iraq, after the American air strike on a plane in Baghdad at the beginning of this month in which the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the deputy head of the PMF Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis were killed.
On Friday, thousands poured into Baghdad to participate in the demonstration rejecting the American presence in the country, which Sadr did not attend but praised the turnout for. Hours later, he said, he would not interfere with the demand movement "neither in the negative nor in the affirmative."
Within hours, his supporters removed their tents in protest arenas across the country, and riot police began to move.