Rockets land in Baghdad’s Green Zone after day of clashes – army

Iraqi militants fired several rockets at Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone on Tuesday as sporadic clashes continued for a second day between rival Shia Muslim groups, the Iraqi military said.

The streets were mostly empty of ordinary people as gunmen drove around in pickup trucks carrying machine guns and brandishing grenade launchers. During the night, sustained gun and rocket fire rang out in the Iraqi capital. Monday’s clashes, which left nearly 20 dead, plunged Iraq into further violence as supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a former anti-US insurgent leader, clashed with Shiite armed groups mostly loyal to Iran.

A prolonged political stalemate after October elections, in which the two sides contested power, gave the country its longest period without a government and led to further unrest as Iraq struggles to recover from decades of conflict. This time, the fighting is taking place among the Shiite majority that has ruled Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

Sadr has positioned himself as a nationalist who opposes all foreign interference, whether from the United States and the West or from Iran. He commands a militia thousands strong and has millions of loyal followers across the country. Its opponents, longtime allies of Tehran, control dozens of heavily armed paramilitary groups trained by Iranian forces. Sadr and his opponents have long dominated state institutions and ruled large parts of the Iraqi state.

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