April 20
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Supporters of Shiite Imam Muqtada al-Sadr today, having penetrated into the specially protected "green" zone of Baghdad, tried to storm the Republican Palace, the headquarters of the Iraqi government. This was reported by the Iraqi TV channel Al-Sumaria. A RIA Novosti correspondent reports from the scene that clashes broke out between law enforcement forces and protesters in the corridors of the palace.

The incident prompted the evacuation of all government offices. A curfew is imposed in the Iraqi capital. In the Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad - Sadr City - a mobilization of the Imam's supporters was announced. Demonstrations also began in southern Iraq, in the city of Basra.

Imam supporters decided to storm the government building after Muqtada al-Sadr announced through his Twitter account this morning his decision to leave politics and close almost all the institutions belonging to his movement. He also hinted that he might be killed by asking for prayers.

Muqtada al-Sadr is one of the most influential Shiite imams in Iraq, capable of bringing thousands of his supporters to the streets. He also led the  Al-Sairun movement, which won the most parliamentary seats in the October parliamentary elections. However, even by uniting with political allies,  Al-Sairun was unable to secure the appointment of a favored prime minister and president. As a result, Al-Sairun deputies resigned in mid-June on the orders of their Imam. Muqtada al-Sadr demanded new elections, and in late July his supporters blocked the work of parliament by staging a sit-in around the building.

In mid-August, at the initiative of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kazemi, the country's political forces agreed to hold a national dialogue. However, Muqtada al-Sadr refused to join the majority, Kommersant reports.

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