A drone strike reportedly targeted the Najaf home of Shi'a cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr on Saturday, December 7, resulting in no casualties and minimal material damage. Demonstrators gathered near Muqtada Al-Sadr's home following the attack. The drone attack reportedly came after unidentified armed men carried out shootings and stabbings targeting anti-government protesters at Sinak Bridge near Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Friday night (local time), December 6, killing at least 23 people and wounding some 130 others.
Additional demonstrations are to be expected in major Iraqi cities over the coming days amid a heightened security presence and accompanying disruptions to transportation and business. Notably, a "Million Man March" is planned on Tuesday, December 10, in which protesters from several cities are expected to travel from southern cities into Baghdad. The situation remains fluid and limited information regarding the march has been reported as of Saturday. Clashes between protesters and security forces are likely near all protest sites.
Further attacks targeting anti-government protesters and their supporters are possible over the coming days and weeks in the wake of the recent announcement of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's resignation.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 400 people have been killed and 15,000 wounded since protests began.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.