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Iraq's Green Zone Security Commander Replaced Over Incursion By Protesters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has replaced the commander of an Iraqi military division who was responsible for protecting Baghdad's diplomatic Green Zone.

A government spokesman said General Muhammad Ridha was being replaced due to "the breach and assaults against government institutions" by protesters who stormed into the heavily fortified diplomatic zone on April 30.

Hundreds of protesters, mostly followers of Iraq's influential Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, knocked down the Green Zone's concrete blast walls on April 30 and broke into the parliament building -- damaging furniture and slapping some lawmakers who tried to flee.

Security forces stood by during the incursion and some were seen kissing and shaking hands with the protesters.

Sadr's supporters have held protests for months to demand an overhaul of the political system that was put in place by U.S. officials after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In March, Ridha himself had been seen kissing Sadr's hands when the cleric entered the Green Zone to start a brief sit-in protest.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters