44 Iraq MPs resign after protest camp cleared: Reports

44 Iraq MPs resign after protest camp cleared: Reports
Mon Dec 30, 2013 21:18:11

Forty-four Iraqi MPs announced their resignation on Monday after security forces demolished an anti-government protest site and detained a lawmaker.

The announcement was made at a televised news conference at which the MPs also demanded "the withdrawal of the army... and the release of MP Ahmed al-Alwani," who was arrested on Saturday.

Clashes broke out Monday in the Ramadi area, west of Baghdad, as security forces dismantled a protest camp where demonstrators had gathered for more than a year.

Ten militants died in the fighting, which also spread to the nearby city of Fallujah.

Protests broke out in the area in December 2012 after the arrest of guards of then-finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, on terrorism charges.

The Iraqi premier had described the protest site as “a headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda,” and urged the protesters to leave the camps.

Defense ministry spokesman Lieutenant-General Mohammed al-Askari told state television the decision to remove the camp came after tribal leaders and local government and defense ministry officials reached a deal.

Tensions have been rising over the past few weeks in Anbar, a province that makes up a third of Iraq's territory and is populated mainly by Sunnis living along the Euphrates River.

The army launched a major operation in Anbar to flush out al Qaeda militants after an attack killed at least 18 soldiers including an army commander on December 21.


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