19:17 GMT +315 December 2019
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    Anti-government protesters set fire and close streets during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.  Mass protests erupted in Baghdad and across southern Iraq last month, calling for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion

    US Urges Iraq to Conduct Snap Elections, 'Halt Violence Against Protesters' - White House

    © AP Photo / Hadi Mizban
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    Iraq has been hit by nationwide protests that have prompted a heavy-handed response from the government, including over 300 dead and some 15,000 injured at the hands of security forces, widespread curfews and the cutting off of Internet access in Baghdad and other regions.

    The White House said in a Sunday statement that Washington was 'seriously concerned' about the situation in the country and urged the Iraqi government to hold early elections and "halt the violence against protesters".

    "The United States joins the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq in calling on the Iraqi government to halt the violence against protesters and fulfill President Salih’s promise to pass electoral reform and hold early elections", the statement said.

    An Iraqi human rights group claimed earlier that at least six people had been killed during a crackdown on demonstrations in the centre of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Saturday and that law enforcement forces actively use tear gas and live fire to disperse protests.

    Abdul Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the country's Armed Forces, has claimed that the Iraqi military does not use weapons to disperse protesters.

    Unrest erupted in Iraq in early October, with people demanding dismissal of the government, as well as deep economic reforms, better living conditions and improved social welfare programs.

    Iraqi President Barham Salih announced on 31 October that Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had agreed to resign.

    According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, over 300 people have been killed in the violence since the start of protests.

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    elections, White House, curfew, Baghdad, protests, Iraq
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