In the heart of Baghdad, protesters engaged in the battle of bridges

Baghdad, Iraq, on 7/11/2019Protesters are now occupying a third bridge, al-Ahrar (

Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde


Posted yesterday at 10h59, updated yesterday at 12h23

Screaming sirens, tuk-tuks and ambulances walk up Al-Rachid Avenue, laden with wounded, toward Tahrir Square. In the middle of Baghdad's old shopping street, lined with decrepit buildings, dozens of young men are massed around a wall of concrete blocks that forbids access to the Martyrs' Bridge (Al-Shuhada). .

In the crowd of Iraqis in tracksuits and jeans-sneakers, the masked face of a headscarf to protect themselves from tear gas, some have a bandaged arm or leg, scars stigmata of previous days. The spirits are warming up. From the edge of the bridge, a hundred meters away, shots slam. The anti-riot forces retaliate against protesters who came to harass them, at best armed with marbles and slingshots.

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A group of men runs a bloody young man, wounded in his leg, and loads him into a tuk-tuk. "They shoot us with live ammunition, with Kalashnikovs and BKCs (Russian machine guns). Look, it's the blood of martyrs! " shouted one of them, showing his hands stained with red. A young man starts to cry. Some out of their pockets of the sleeves they picked up. Others show videos of clashes and martyrs.

"We are peaceful civilians. We do not have weapons, just Iraqi flags but they shoot us! Every day, there are dead and wounded. They even killed doctors. They are deliberately targeting them to prevent first aid delivery, Yasser shouted. "The government says we want to loot the banks but it's not true: we just want to block the bridge to prevent traffic," He continues. At his side, Essam, a shopkeeper in the neighborhood, agrees: "It's our shop there, and nothing has been stolen. "

"The goal is to cut the bridges to block traffic, prevent officials from going to work and cripple the city"

The concrete wall erected near the Martyrs' Bridge is the new front line between protesters and security forces. At the resumption of the protest against the Iraqi government, on October 24, the protesters had all gathered on the bridge of the Republic (Al-Joumhouria), which connects Tahrir Square to the green zone, the ultra-secure district of the capital. which brings together the institutions of the country. Since early November, they have begun to conquer new bridges that span the Tigris.


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