Dozens of Iraqi protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Sunday, scaling the concrete barriers ringing the building, bringing down an Iranian flag, and replacing it with the Iraqi flag, eyewitnesses said. Security forces fired in the air to disperse the protesters who threw stones and burned tires around the building on a street corner in Karbala, south of Baghdad. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the incident, which comes amid ongoing protests in the capital Baghdad and majority-Shiite provinces in the south, the AP reports. The protests are directed at a postwar political system and a class of elite leaders that Iraqis accuse of pillaging the country's wealth while the country grows poorer.
But protesters have also directed their rage at neighboring Iran and the powerful Iraqi Shiite militias tied to it. The anti-government protests in Karbala, Baghdad, and cities across southern Iraq have often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings and headquarters of Iran-backed militias. More than 250 people have been killed in the security crackdown since early October. Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square and across southern Iraq in recent days, calling for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 US-led invasion.
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