Iraq deploys elite counter-terrorism unit to protect state buildings as chaotic protests rock Baghdad

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As anti-government unrest in Iraq continues, authorities have ordered a counter-terrorism force to help restore security in Baghdad. The turmoil is the latest political crisis to hit Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.

“Counter-Terrorism Service forces have been deployed in some areas of Baghdad to protect state buildings from undisciplined elements taking advantage of security forces being busy with protecting protests and protesters,” the unit said in a statement.

Two sources who spoke to Reuters said the elite troops had been instructed to “use all necessary measures” to end ongoing protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.

As many as 67 Iraqis have been killed in two days of protests, according to reports. The anti-government demonstrations, which began in early October, are believed to have already killed more than 100 people.

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Angered by a lack of basic services and growing corruption, thousands of Iraqis have taken part in demonstrations in Baghdad and several provinces around the country.

Iraq has suffered from years of political instability following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. In 2016, thousands of protesters stormed the Green Zone in Baghdad and occupied the Iraqi parliament building after the country’s parliament failed to approve new ministers.

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