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15 killed in Baghdad violent clashes

BAGHDAD, Iraq: At least 15 people were killed in an eastern Baghdad neighbourhood overnight in clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters, police and medics said on Monday.

The death toll has surged to at least 110 people in nearly a week of violence.

The military said early on Monday it was withdrawing from Sadr city, a sprawling residential district, and handing over to police in an apparent effort to de-escalate tension.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in a phone call that he trusted the Iraqi forces and supported the Iraqi government in restoring security, without elaborating, a statement from the premier’s office said.

Abdul Mahdi said life had returned to normal, according to the statement. Protests broke out in Baghdad on Tuesday as public anger swelled over jobs, services and endemic corruption among Iraq’s leaders and politicians.

The interior ministry gave a casualty toll of 104 killed and more than 6,000 wounded. It said eight of the dead were security forces.

The government has agreed to increase subsidized housing for the poor, stipends for the unemployed and training programs and loan initiatives for youth.

Iraqi authorities also said they would hold to account members of the security forces who “acted wrongly” in a harsh crackdown on dissent, state TV reported on Monday.

The protesters demand the overhaul of what they say is an entire corrupt system and political class that has held the country back, despite unprecedented levels of security since the end of the war against IS.