Iraqi protesters pour into Green Zone, storm parliament
Anti-government protesters tore down walls and poured into the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone yesterday, where they stormed parliament in a major escalation of a political crisis that has simmered for months.
Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have been holding demonstrations and sit-ins for months to demand an overhaul of Iraq's corrupt and ineffective political system, but yesterday was the first time they broke into the Green Zone, home to most government ministries and foreign embassies.
Iraqi security forces fired tear gas at one entrance of the zone but appeared to be largely standing down as protesters marched through the area, chanting and waving Iraqi flags. Hundreds were still pouring into the Green Zone as night fell.
Iraq has been mired in a political crisis for months, hindering the government's ability to combat the Islamic State group - which still controls much of the country's north and west - or address a financial crisis largely caused by the plunge in global oil prices.