Iraq protests
Protesters gather on a bridge leading to the Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 30, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Cairo: Dozens of Iraqis, mostly followers of powerful cleric Moqtada Al Sadr stormed the parliament building in a highly protected area in Baghdad on Saturday, the second such act in less than a week, leaving at least 125 people injured and escalating a political stand-off.

Some Iraqi TV stations showed protesters waving the Iraqi flag walking inside the parliament after they managed to overcome concrete barriers around the Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions.

Security forces used water cannons and tear gas in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the demonstrators from breaching into the zone.

Online footage purportedly showed some injured protesters.

Iraq protests
Security forces gather as supporters of the Iraqi cleric Moqtada bring down concrete barriers leading to the capital Baghdad's high-security Green Zone and the country's parliament, during a protest against a rival bloc's nomination for prime minister, on July 30, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi urged demonstrators to avoid escalation. “Continuation of political escalation increases tensions on the street and does not serve public interests,” Al Kadhimi said in a statement.

Backers of Al Sadr on Wednesday stormed the Green Zone and parliament, but withdrew later in response to a call from the powerful cleric.

The protests are largely seen as a show of force by Al Sadr whose bloc garnered the largest number of parliamentary seats late last year.

Iraq has been mired in a political deadlock since last October when early parliamentary elections were held.

Rival factions have since failed to form a government in the country, which is grappling with economic woes.