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Sadr Holds Mass Demonstration Despite Government Calls For Restraint

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr appeared briefly at the demonstration in Baghdad.

Several thousand people have demonstrated in central Baghdad, despite a call by the government to halt protests in order to concentrate on combating the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Mostly Shi'ite supporters of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated on July 15, calling for the government to accelerate reforms and step up efforts to combat corruption.

They were angry that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has failed to carry out a cabinet reshuffle that he pledged several months ago.

Tensions are running high in Baghdad following a massive suicide bombing on July 3 that left 292 people dead. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.

The Iraqi military on July 15 issued a statement calling the protests "unlicensed" and threatening to deal with demonstrators as "terrorists."

Sadr briefly appeared before the crowd before an aide presented his list of demands, including the resignations of the president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament; the televising of parliament sessions; and the prosecution of corrupt officials.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP