Iraqi security forces raid Baghdad protest site

image copyrightEPA
image captionIraqi security forces (in the background) burned protesters' tents at Baghdad's Tahrir Square

Iraqi security forces have moved against the main anti-government protest site in central Baghdad.

They fired live ammunition and tear gas as they began removing tents and concrete barriers near Tahrir Square and a bridge across the Tigris river, eyewitnesses say.

Several people are reported to have been injured in Saturday's clashes.

Protesters have for months held anti-government demonstrations and camped in the capital.

Saturday's violence comes a day after a separate massive rally in Baghdad against the presence of US forces in the country.

media captionProtesters descend on central Baghdad

Many protesters in that rally were supporters of powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who had called a million of people to join Friday's march.

The US killing of the top Iranian military commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, on 3 January at Baghdad airport has fuelled tensions.

Also assassinated in the US drone strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi who had commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group.

media captionThis footage, reportedly of the missile attack, was shown on Iranian state TV

Iran responded on 8 January to Gen Soleimani's assassination by carrying out a ballistic missile attack on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

A Pentagon spokesman has said that 34 US service members had suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Hours after the strike, Iran's armed forces fired two missiles at a Ukrainian passenger plane over Iran's capital, Tehran, by mistake, killing all 176 people on board.

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