Oct. 27 (UPI) — Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi deployed the country’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service on Sunday in response to nationwide protests.
The forces said the move was meant to control violent protests centered in Baghdad and Nasiriya that began on Friday opposing corruption and calling for a reform of the country’s political system.
“Counter-Terrorism Service forces have been deployed in some areas of Baghdad to protect state buildings from undisciplined elements taking advantage of security forces being busy with protecting protests and protesters,” the forces said in a statement.
The Iraqi High Commission on Human Rights said at least 60 demonstrators were killed in the first two days of protests.
The protests against the government began in early October but paused until Friday after security forces killed about 150 protesters throughout the country.
Protests have focused on political parties with ties to Iranian militias, which are now part of the Iraqi security forces.
Demonstrators have vandalized the offices of some of the political parties and militias, prompting the government to respond by restricting movements in those areas on Saturday.
United Nations Special representative to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Passchaert, condemned the political parties for failing to address the calls to control corruption and for their handling of the protests.
“Armed entities sabotaging the peaceful demonstrations, eroding the government’s credibility and ability to act, cannot be tolerated,” she said.