On Tuesday, after Muqatda al-Sadr ordered them to stop a protest after violence claimed the lives of 23 of them, his followers began to leave Baghdad’s Green Zone.
After giving his supporters “60 minutes” to leave the high-security Green Zone, Sadr threatened to “disavow” anyone still present.
“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” al-Sadr told reporters from his base in the central Iraqi city of Najaf.
Following al-address, Sadr’s which was broadcast live on television, his supporters could be seen starting to leave the Green Zone. Shortly after that, the army removed the nationwide curfew that had been in place since Monday’s violence flared up.
Iraq’s political crisis, which has left the nation without a functioning government, prime minister, or president for months, has caused tensions to surge.
After al-followers Sadr’s stormed the government palace inside the Green Zone on Monday afternoon in response to their leader’s news that he was leaving politics, they intensified quickly.
After the US-led overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, the grey-bearded preacher Al-Sadr, who has millions of devoted followers, once led a militia against American and Iraqi government forces, announced his “definitive retirement” on Monday and said he had “decided not to meddle in political affairs.”
Fighting broke out between al-followers Sadr’s and the army and members of the Hashed al-Shaabi, formerly sponsored by Tehran and now part of the Iraqi military, on Monday night and Tuesday early.
The number of al-Sadr supporters slain was revised by medical personnel on Tuesday morning to 23. There were also approximately 380 injuries, some from tear gas inhalation and some from gunshot wounds.
Tuesday saw a large burial for some of the demonstrators slain in Baghdad in the Shia holy city of Najaf.