An armed drone targeted the home of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Saturday, hours after his supporters deployed in Baghdad in response to an attack that left 17 protesters dead. The developments marked a worrying turn for the anti-government protests rocking Iraq since October, the country's largest and deadliest grassroots movement in decades. The mostly young protesters in the capital's iconic Tahrir Square had long feared a spiral into chaos, and on Friday it appeared their apprehensions were well-placed.
Twelve demonstrators were killed and dozens wounded late Friday after unidentified men attacked an anti-government protest camp in Baghdad, marking a new violent turn for the anti-government movement. The bloodshed came as the US accused Iran of "meddling" in Iraq's turmoil and slapped sanctions on Iran-backed groups for allegedly cracking down on protesters. Youth-dominated allies have thronged the Iraqi capital's main protest camp in Tahrir Square since early October, denouncing the government as corrupt, inept and beholden to Iran.
Gunmen in cars opened fire on Friday in Baghdad's Khilani Square leaving at least 15 people dead and 60 wounded, Iraqi security and medical officials said. At least two of the dead were policemen. Protesters fearing for their lives ran from the plaza to nearby Tahrir Square and mosques to take cover. It wasn't immediately clear who did the shooting. The attack came as anti-government demonstrators occupied parts of Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahar bridges in a standoff with security forces. All the bridges lead to or near the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government. "We are under live fire now with electric power cut, the wounded and martyrs are here and the bullets were...
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leaders over a deadly crackdown on protests in the country, as it warned Tehran to stay out of its neighbor's affairs. The move comes as President Donald Trump's administration, which considers Iran an arch-enemy, voices alarm at rising attacks on US forces' bases in Iraq blamed on Shiite militias backed by Tehran's clerical regime.
"The Iranians learned that they have a longer leash for conducting operations against the Saudis and UAE than they realized," a NATO source said.