Overnight tensions

Video: Heavy gunfire reported in Basra and Kut

BASRA/KUT, January 14 — In simultaneous incidents, tensions accompanied by gunfire erupted in the Iraqi governorates of Basra and Wasit. In the city of Kut, heavy gunfire was reported, leading to a security force member sustaining bruises following a “misunderstanding,” according to sources in the city.

Security forces closed the renowned Italian Bridge in central Basra following the deployment of members from the Saraya al-Salam, an armed group associated with Muqtada Al-Sadr, in various parts of the city. This was succeeded by an intensive security presence in different areas.

No official reports have been issued regarding the nature of the tensions in Basra. However, it is believed that they began in the “Garmat Ali” area, north of the city.

In Kut, the leadership of Saraya al-Salam directed its members to disperse and return to their homes after approximately two hours of unrest in the city center.

Members of Saraya al-Salam and security forces in Kut fired gunshots into the air, lasting a few minutes near police patrols heading to the Saraya’s headquarters located on Al-Dhafaf Street in the city center.

According to the government narrative, a dispute leading to a police officer’s injury with bruises stemmed from a security patrol stopping a vehicle belonging to the Saraya leader in the province.

An informed source told 964media that at around midnight, a dispute occurred between a police patrol, which had set up a checkpoint near Tammuz Square, and passengers in a Tahoe vehicle affiliated with Saraya al-Salam. The passengers had refused to stop for the patrol, resulting in the exchange of several gunshots between the two parties.

More than an hour later, a security delegation attempted to communicate with the Saraya al-Salam leadership in Kut. However, Saraya al-Salam’s office received information that a security force was approaching to arrest some of its members, prompting Saraya members near the headquarters to fire into the air.

Following this, the patrols quickly withdrew, and the Saraya al-Salam leadership in Kut issued a call for its members to avoid gathering and to return to their homes.