The Iraqi army on Tuesday vowed not to open fire on protesters amid an ongoing wave of popular demonstrations that erupted last week in the southern Basra province.
Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority southern provinces have been rocked by popular demonstrations against high unemployment, a lack of basic services and chronic power shortages.
The protests have reportedly seen acts of violence from both demonstrators and Iraqi security forces that have left at least six people dead and dozens more injured.
At a Tuesday press conference, army spokesman Yahya Rasool said the Iraqi army would refrain from using live ammunition to disperse demonstrators.
He added, however, that security forces would “not tolerate” acts of aggression aimed at either demonstrators or state institutions.
Rasool went on to assert that, at least in some cases, “saboteurs” had infiltrated otherwise peaceful protests with the aim of instigating acts of violence.
Demonstrations have so far been reported in the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad.