The protest movement sweeping the Shiite cities of southern Iraq and Baghdad took a dangerous turn on Saturday when a drone shelled the Najaf residence of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who champions the protest movement against the government and Iranian dominance. Sadr was not at home at the time. As DEBKAfile reported on Nov. 30, the unrest in the Shiite south has deteriorated into a deadly conflict between the Shiites opposed to Iran’s influence in Baghdad and the Shiite militias under the thumb of the Iranian Al Qods leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The crackdown he ordered on the protest, which has claimed 450 dead and 15,000 injured, has further polarized the two camps.
Friday saw the bloodiest death toll in one day of 25 protesters killed and 130 wounded at the hands of death squads operated by the pro-Iranian militias with orders to shoot directly into the crowds of protesters. The bombing of Sadr’s home in Najaf tips Iraq’s Shiites into open war.