Fighting in Iraqi capital leaves dozens dead after Sadr quits politics
Fighting between rival Iraqi forces raged for a second day on Aug. 30 with rocket fire echoing from Baghdad's Green Zone where 23 supporters of powerful Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr have been shot dead, medics said.
Tensions have soared in Iraq amid a political crisis that has left the country without a new government, prime minister or president for months, and escalated sharply after Sadr's supporters on Monday afternoon stormed the government palace following their leader's announcement that he was quitting politics.
The violence pitches backers of Sadr against rival Shiite factions backed by neighboring Iran.
Overnight, shelling targeted the high-security Green Zone that houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, a security source said, amid angry protests after Sadr's surprise announcement.
At least seven shells fell in the high-security Green Zone, the security source said on condition of anonymity, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible.
The security source said Sadr's supporters opened fire at the Green Zone from the outside, adding security forces inside "were not responding".
After a lull in violence, fresh clashes between Sadr's supporters and the army and men of the Hashed al-Shaabi, former Tehran-backed paramilitaries integrated into the Iraqi forces, erupted again on Tuesday morning.
The rattle of automatic gunfire and heavier explosions of rocket-propelled grenades could be heard from the Green Zone, AFP correspondents reported.
The United Nations mission in Iraq warned of "an extremely dangerous escalation" and called on all sides to "refrain from acts that could lead to an unstoppable chain of events".
"The very survival of the state is at stake," it warned.