Iraqi Shiite cleric orders loyalists to withdraw after deadly clashes

Iraq’s influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday ordered his followers to withdraw from Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone after deadly clashes left at least 35 dead and hundreds wounded.

Thousands of al-Sadr’s loyalists stormed the presidential palace in the Green Zone on Monday following his announcement that he is retiring from Iraqi politics, triggering violence.

“If they (followers) do not leave their sit-in within 60 minutes, I will disavow the (Sadrist) movement,” al-Sadr said during a six-minute speech in the southern Iraqi province of Najaf.

“I apologize to the people of Iraq,” he added. “What is happening in Iraq has saddened me.”


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