- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2019

U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Iraqi officials to allow anti-government protesters to peacefully demonstrate as the demonstrations turn increasingly violent.

The bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday condemned the spike in violence “perpetrated by Iraqi security forces and paramilitary groups” in a statement Thursday.

“This is unacceptable,” said committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the panel’s ranking Republican.

In the latest clashes, six protesters were killed by Iraqi military gunfire as demonstrators pushed through barricades in Baghdad near where the parliament and the U.S. Embassy are located. The demonstrators are demanding political reforms and a curb on influence by neighboring Iran in the country’s domestic affairs, The Associated Press reported.

Demonstrators have also attempted to break through barriers that led to the Tigris River, which prompted forces to block all bridges that lead to the fortified Green Zone.

The members called on the Iraqi government, which has promised to hold early elections, to reverse the recent internet and social media blackout, and “ensure that all political parties, ethnic groups, and sects are able to live peacefully alongside one another.”

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