Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

  • Protesters took over the Khilani square and part of Sinak bridge
  • Iran requested Iraq to close down Shalamcheh border crossing

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security and medical officials say protesters have pushed closer to the Green Zone, Baghdad’s fortified seat of government, after security forces pulled back following a night of violent altercations.
The officials said Saturday that protesters took control of the strategic Khilani Square and part of Sinak bridge leading to the Green Zone, which houses Parliament and several foreign embassies.
Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, Iraq closed its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran to travellers from both countries on Saturday, an Iraqi security source and an Iranian diplomat said.
The security source said Tehran had demanded the closure because of ongoing public protests in both Iran and Iraq. The border would remain shut until further notice but would not affect goods or trade, the security source and the diplomat said.
Officials say a roadside bomb killed three people and wounded 18 late Friday near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Another roadside blast in the southern city of Nassiriya wounded 18 that same evening.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.


UN demands humanitarian corridors for Syria refugees

Updated 19 February 2020

UN demands humanitarian corridors for Syria refugees

  • ‘Inhumane’ regime attacks denounced

BEIRUT, ANKARA: Syrian regime troops on Tuesday pressed an offensive on the country’s last major opposition enclave where the mass displacement of civilians is sparking fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Around 900,000 people have been forced from their homes and shelters in less than three months, leaving huge numbers to sleep rough in the thick of winter.

The UN said that half a million among them were children, some of whom have died of exposure in snow-covered camps. 

“Over the past four days alone, some 43,000 newly displaced people have fled western Aleppo where fighting has been particularly fierce,” UN spokesman David Swanson said.

Since the start of February, the displacement figure was a staggering 300,000, he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the creation of humanitarian corridors, expressing horror at the  regime offensive. 

“No shelter is now safe. And as the government offensive continues and people are forced into smaller and smaller pockets, I fear even more people will be killed,” Michelle Bachelet said.

Bachelet was “horrified” by the unfolding humanitarian crisis, a statement said. “How can anyone justify carrying out such indiscriminate and inhumane attacks?” Bachelet said.

Tuesday’s violence left at least two civilians dead. A member of regime-backer Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed in Aleppo province in a rocket strike.

According to Save The Children, seven children — including a baby only seven months old — have died from freezing temperatures and bad living conditions in the camps.

“We’re worried that the death toll will increase given the absolutely inhumane living conditions that women and children are finding themselves in,” the charity’s Syria director Sonia Khush said.

Meanwhile, Turkey will deploy more troops to Idlib and retaliate against attacks by regime forces there, even as Ankara continues to discuss the situation with Moscow, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.