Clashes continue near Baghdad parliament

STORY: Streets were mostly empty of ordinary people as gunmen cruised in pickup trucks carrying machine guns and brandishing grenade launchers. Overnight, sustained gun and rocket fire rang out across the Iraqi capital.

Clashes on Monday (August 29), which killed nearly 20 people, jolted Iraq into new violence as supporters of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a former anti-U.S. insurgent leader, faced off with Shi’ite armed groups mostly loyal to Iran.

"We are only here to ask for a good life, to ask for schools for our children, access to healthcare, we want dignity," one supporter of Moqtada a--Sadr, Ahmed, told Reuters.

A prolonged political deadlock after an October election, during which the two camps have competed for power, has given the country its longest run without a government and led to new unrest as Iraq struggles to recover from decades of conflict.

This time, the fighting is among the Shi’ite majority that has ruled Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion which toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

Sadr has positioned himself as a nationalist who opposes all foreign interference, whether from the United States and the West or from Iran.