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4/30/16

Middle East - Iraq: Baghdad in State of Emergency After Supporters of al Sadr Storm Green Zone - by M. Abbas, F. B. Bruton and E.Chuck

Iraqi officials declared a state of emergency for all of Baghdad Saturday after protesters loyal to popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr breached the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign embassies, including the American one.

"Iraq security authorities have declared a state of emergency in Baghdad," said Brig. Gen. Saad Mann, a spokesman for the Iraqi military. "All gates that lead to Baghdad are closed. No one is allowed to enter into Baghdad, only those who want to leave Baghdad can do so."

Hundreds of demonstrators occupied the country's parliament, according to a senior Iraqi security source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Video from inside the building showed jubilant crowds waving Iraqi flags and shouting "peaceful, peaceful." Parliament is not currently in session.

Supporters of Sadr, whose fighters once controlled swaths of Baghdad and helped defend the capital from ISIS, have been demonstrating for weeks at the gates of the Green Zone, responding to their leader's call to pressure the government to reform. Saturday was the first time the protesters breached the compound's walls. 

Read more: Baghdad in State of Emergency After Supporters of al Sadr Storm Green Zone - NBC News

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