At least two people were killed and dozens injured in protests that erupted on Friday near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, according to a medical source.
An Iraqi security source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the police used force to disperse protesters who entered the Green Zone that houses key government buildings and foreign embassies.
Despite heavy security deployment around the Green Zone, the protesters blocked key bridges connecting the diplomatic enclave to Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad.
"The police used water canons to disperse the protesters," the police source told Anadolu Agency.
In the Iraqi provinces of Basra and Thi Qar, protesters gathered in public squares and in front of government buildings. They also held sit-ins.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry, for its part, said more than 60 members of the security forces were injured during Friday's demonstrations.
The ministry spokesman Khaled al-Mehna said in a televised interview that "security forces have a duty to protect the demonstrators,".
"Violence is not in anyone's interest," he asserted.
Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, for his part, warned against plunging the country into violence and chaos during protests in Baghdad and southern provinces.
This came in a statement read by his representative Abdul Mahdi Karbalai during Friday praying in the southern city of Karbala.
Al-Sistani called on demonstrators and security forces to "strictly adhere to the peacefulness of the demonstrations and not to allow violence, riots and vandalism."
He also called for an independent judicial investigation into the violence during the protests in the country earlier this month which caused around 149 people dead.
Over the past month, Iraq witnessed mass anti-corruption protests which left hundreds dead. Successive Iraqi governments have failed to put an end to nepotism and corruption as the current government struggles to end the mismanagement of public funds.
According to the World Bank figures, Iraq has a high rate of youth unemployment around 25%. It is also ranked as the 12th most corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.