Weeks of deadly unrest showed no signs of abating with four more people shot dead by security forces yesterday. Skirmishes broke out between security forces and protesters, with clusters of young men wearing surgical masks and construction helmets tossing tear gas canisters back at riot police stationed behind concrete blast walls. The renewed violence marked a resurgence of bloodshed after a few days of relatively peaceful protests in the capital. The crowds in Tahrir Square have swelled with students and striking teachers in recent days.
At least 320 people have been killed as security forces have responded to the mostly peaceful demonstrations by firing live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters directly at the bodies of protesters. Human rights groups have accused them of improperly firing the canisters directly into crowds at point-blank range, piercing protesters' skulls and chests. The international community also condemned the use of lethal force by Iraqi security forces targeting anti-government protesters in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government has failed to find a way out of the biggest and most complicated challenge to its rule in years. The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of the Daesh terrorist group in 2017. Since the protests started, they have swiftly escalated into demands for a sweeping overhaul of the entire system, but political parties appear to have rallied around the government of embattled Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.