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Iraq Forces Use Live Rounds on Demonstrators

Anti-government protesters run as security forces fire tear gas to disperse them during a clash in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 26, 2020.

Heather Murdock contributed to this report.

Iraqi security forces, seeking to disperse protesters, used live bullets Sunday, wounding demonstrators in the capital, Baghdad, and the southern city of Nassiriya.

Prominent cleric Muqafa al-Sadr withdrew his support Saturday for the four-month-long sit-ins and rallies in Iraq that have threatened the status quo. Within hours of dropping his support, Sadr's followers, who were some of the staunchest supporters of the protesters, packed their tents and left the camps.

Protesters have called for new leadership, jobs, healthcare, security and an end to widespread corruption and extreme poverty.

Without Sadr's support, protesters had predicted Iraq's many militias and divisions of security forces would attack the demonstrators.

It is estimated at least 600 people have been killed and 20,000 people have been wounded in the protests across Iraq since October.