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Anti-government protests rock Basra, Iraq

Yahoo News Photo Staff

Iraqi security forces deployed on the streets of Basra on Saturday, a day after protesters in the southern city stormed the Iranian consulate and torched government buildings in violence that rocked the oil-exporting Shiite heartland and sparked alarm across a conflict-weary country.

The deployment came after an alliance of powerful Shiite militias, many of them backed by Iran, vowed to respond to the violent protests that have gripped the city for the past week, raising the threat of further violence.

At least 15 people were killed and 249 injured in clashes between protesters and security forces this week, health officials say.

Since June, Basra has been shaken by the most serious protests in the oil-rich southern region in years, with angry residents complaining of poor public services. In recent days, protests escalated, as crowds turned their rage on neighboring Iran, blaming its outsized influence in Iraq’s political affairs for their misery and calling for radical change. Iran controls powerful Shiite militias in Basra, home to some of the largest oil fields in Iraq. (AP)

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Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

TOPSHOT – Iraqi protesters gather at the burnt-down local government headquarters in the southern city of Basra on September 7, 2018 during demonstrations over poor public services. – Basra has seen a surge in protests since September 4, with demonstrators torching government buildings as well as political party and militia offices, as anger boils over after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water. (Photo by Haidar MOHAMMED ALI / AFP) (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Popular Mobilization Forces parade in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. A local military commander for an alliance of powerful Shiite militias, many of them backed by Iran, vowed a response Saturday to weeklong protests that have turned violent in the southern city of Basra, raising the specter for more escalation in the oil-rich southern region. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Vehicles of Iraqi rapid response forces are seen on a street in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 8, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi protesters burn the Iranian Consulate in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Mourners chant anti government slogans while carrying the Iraqi flag-draped coffin of Abdul Salam Fathi, a protester whose family said he was killed when he participated in a protest last night, during his funeral in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Hundreds of angry protesters in Basra took to the streets on Thursday night. Some clashed with security forces, lobbing Molotov cocktails and setting fire to a government building as well as the offices of Shiite militias. At least three people were shot dead in confrontations with security forces. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

TOPSHOT – Iraqi protesters wave a national flag while demonstrating outside the burnt-down local government headquarters in the southern city of Basra on September 7, 2018 during demonstrations over poor public services. – Basra has seen a surge in protests since September 4, with demonstrators torching government buildings as well as political party and militia offices, as anger boils over after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water. (Photo by Haidar MOHAMMED ALI / AFP) (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters storm and burn the Iranian consulate building in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters trample a portrait of Iran’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during the storming and burning the Iranian consulate in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters storm and burn the Basra Government building during a demonstration demanding better public services and jobs in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Men are seen inside the headquarters of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, set on fire by protesters yesterday, in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi protesters break into an official building as they demonstrate against the government and the lack of basic services in Basra on Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi women shout slogans during a protest in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters raise the Iraqi flag over Basra Government building during a demonstration demanding better public services and jobs in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi protesters light candles in front of official buildings as they demonstrate against the government and the lack of basic services in Basra on Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

A riot police officer stands guard during anti-government protest at Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Khalid al-Mousily/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi security forces stand guard near the building of the government office in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

A worker holds the remaining files from the fire of the municipality building of Basra, Iraq, Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

A firefighter sprays water into the burning provincial government building during anti-government protests in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. Iraqi protesters stormed and set fire to a provincial government building in the southern city of Basra, despite a curfew imposed by authorities Thursday to try and quell demonstrations against poor public services and unemployment that have turned violent. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters push down concrete blast walls of the government office building in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters wave national flags after burning the municipal complex during protests demanding better public services and jobs in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Smoke rises from the Governorate Council building of Basra, Iraq, Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi protesters gather during a protest near the building of the government office in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi people walk near government buildings in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

A member of the Iraqi security forces looks on near the building of the government office in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

An injured protester lies in a hospital in Basra, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Essam al-Sudani/Reuters)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Iraqi protestors demonstrate against the government and the lack of basic services, on Sept. 3, 2018 in the southern city of Basra. – Iraq has been gripped by protests over power outages, unemployment, state mismanagement and a lack of clean water. (Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

Protesters chant anti-government slogans while security forces prevent them from storming the governor’s building during protests demanding better public services and jobs, in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

An Iraqi soldier affected by tear gas is helped by several protesters during demonstrations where people are demanding better public services and jobs, in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Antigovernment protests rock Basra, Iraq

A relative mourns over the body of Ali Qassim, killed during a protest, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition on hundreds of protesters, killing several civilians and wounding several others.(Photo: Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

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