Iran-aligned factions targeted in Iraq's Amara



Members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces stand guard during a funerary procession for Wissam Alyawi, a commander of the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia, in Baghdad on October 26th. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

Iraq's south saw further protests and violence on Tuesday (December 10th) as demonstrations that erupted October 1st persist unabated, security sources said.

The southern city of Amara was rocked overnight by four near-simultaneous explosions targeting premises of two pro-Iran armed factions, police said.

"Three sound grenades targeted two premises and the house of an Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader, and an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted the house of an Ansar Allah al-Awfiya commander," police said.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq is one of the most powerful groups in Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a network of armed groups, of which Ansar Allah al-Awfiya is also a component.

Medical sources reported three wounded by the blasts.

Founded in 2014 to fight the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) after the group seized swathes of northern Iraq and neighbouring Syria, the PMF is made up of various militias, many of which have been backed by Iran.

According to security sources, the attacks were committed against the groups due to their loyalty to neighbouring Iran, whose influence continues to grow in Iraq, in particular via armed groups that it has long trained and financed.

Armed groups accused of violence

The Tuesday attacks come shortly after the recent bloodshed in several Iraqi cities, the latest seeing 24 people killed, including four police officers, on Friday evening in central Baghdad.

Both the state and the demonstrators accuse armed men of perpetrating the violence, the former claiming that it is not possible to identify those responsible, while the latter point to pro-Iran entities.

Since October 1st, Baghdad and the south have been gripped by rallies against corruption, poor public services, a lack of jobs and Iran's perceived political interference.

More than 450 people have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded during the unprecedented protest movement demanding an overhaul of the political system.

Protestors from several cities in the south on Tuesday joined thousands of demonstrators gathered for more than two months in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, which is the epicentre of the demonstrations in the capital.

"We came to support our brothers in Baghdad," said an activist in the movement from Nassiriya, Haydar Kazem.

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By God, damn al-Asaeb and damn Iran! They're panders!