Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, carrying guns and driving tuk-tuk vehicles, have begun withdrawing from Baghdad's Green Zone after the influential Shia cleric called on Tuesday for them to end their actions.
Following the move, the Iraqi military's Joint Operations Command said it had been decided to lift the nationwide curfew in the capital Baghdad and other provinces, following two days of violence.
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to stop protesting Tuesday after violent clashes between rival Shiite Muslim groups continued for a second day following his announcement that he was withdrawing from politics. The violence prompted Iran to close its air and land borders with Iraq just as millions of Iranians were preparing for an annual pilgrimage to Shiite sites.
Baghdad's high-security Green Zone came under attack on Monday after Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr said he was quitting politics, sparking chaos in which 15 of his supporters were killed - and forcing the United States to deny they had evacuated the embassy.
John Kirby, National Council spokesperson, on Monday said there was no truth to online rumors that the US embassy had been evacuated - but said the situation was changing rapidly.
'There's no evacuation going on at the moment and no indication that that's going to be carried out at this time,' Kirby said.
Update(2140ET): The American embassy in Baghdad has reportedly engaged inbound rocket attacks with its air defense system, the C-RAM which protects aerial threats against the Green Zone.
Some reports suggest the streets have finally grown calmer in the early morning hours (local time), but this is after an evening and overnight death toll of at least 15, including unconfirmed reports of police casualties. AFP citing local medical sources also says some 350 protesters were injured.
Fighting between rival Iraqi forces is raging for a second day, with rocket fire echoing from Baghdad’s Green Zone – where 30 people have been killed, according to medical sources.
The violence began after powerful Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Monday that he would resign from Iraqi politics, prompting hundreds of his angry followers to storm the government palace, sparking clashes with security forces.
It was reported on Monday that the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, Iraq was breached, and that the US embassy was reportedly evacuated. There were reports of US embassy employees seen leaving the embassy, and evacuating the Green Zone, via helicopter.