BAGHDAD, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday condemned the recent attacks against the anti-government protesters.
"The repeated calls by the religious authority for rejecting violence and adhering to peaceful demonstrations ... did not prevent the occurrence of unfortunate and painful incidents during the past days," the representative of al-Sistani said in a televised speech during the weekly Friday prayer in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of the capital Baghdad.
"The Religious Marj'iyah (Shiite religious authority headed by al-Sistani) condemns all attacks and abuse ... from any party," the representative added.
The official security forces are responsible for avoiding chaos and turmoil, as well as protecting the protests sites and the peaceful demonstrators, he noted.
On Wednesday, clashes between the followers of the prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and demonstrators erupted when al-Sadr's militiamen stormed al-Sadrain Square in Najaf and set fire to the sit-in tents, killing up to eight protesters and wounding some 100 protesters and al-Sadr's followers.
Mass anti-government demonstrations have been continuing in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since October of 2019, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more jobs.