A man walks past a damaged car in Basra, following heavy clashes between rival Shia militias.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani
At least five people were killed and several injured during clashes between rival Shia groups in Basra, Iraq, 500 kilometers south of Baghdad on Thursday, 1 September, according to local authorities.
A police official told news agency EFE that two of the deceased belonged to Saraya al-Salam, a militia linked to Muqtada al-Sadr, while the other three people killed were members of the Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq group linked to the Coordination Framework (CF).
The clashes reportedly broke out after a Saraya al-Salam member was assassinated in front of an Asaib Ahl al-Haq headquarter.
An anonym eyewitness informed Middle East Eye that “After the assassination, members of Saraya al-Salam went to the Asaib Ahl al-Haq headquarters in the Manawi Basha district and opened fire against their building.”
In response to the violence, Qais Khazali requested his political party to close all of its offices. “I ask the brothers in Asaib Ahl al-Haq to close all the offices of the movement starting from now and until further notice, and any office that is intended to be burned down, let them burn it and do not worry about that – God will compensate you for that in a way that you do not expect,” he wrote on Twitter.
For now, a fragile agreement on a truce has taken place during the Arbaeen, in which Shias pilgrims travel to the city of Karbala on foot.
The country finds itself in a lasting political deadlock since the last elections in October 2021.
While Muqtada al-Sadr and his political movement were able to win 73 out of the 329 seats in parliament, any attempts to form a coalition government failed, resulting in the withdrawal of all 73 MPs.
Despite political and social instabilities, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court has postponed its ruling on a petition to dissolve the nation’s parliament for a third time until 7 September.
Recently, Sadrist supporters confronted security forces in Baghdad’s heavily secured Green Zone, after their leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he would cease his political activities.
The number of deaths that occurred as a result of clashes since al-Sadr’s resignation stands now at 40.