Iraqi officials say six protesters have been killed amid ongoing violence with security forces firing live rounds and tear gas in Baghdad and southern Iraq.
Security and hospital officials say two protesters were killed Wednesday when security forces fired live rounds to disperse them from Baghdad's historic Rasheed Street.
Officials said one protester also died in Karbala on Wednesday afternoon, raising the death toll in clashes in the province to four in the past 24 hours.
The officials requested anonymity in line with regulations.
Protesters also burned tires near Ahrar bridge, blocking security forces from accessing it. Demonstrators are occupying part of three strategic bridges - Ahrar, Jumhuriya and Sinak - in a standoff with security forces.
At least 350 protesters have died and thousands wounded in mass demonstrations since Oct. 1.
Iraqi officials say three anti-government protesters were killed and 35 wounded by security forces in southern Iraq amid ongoing violence.
Security and hospital officials said Wednesday that two of the protesters were killed the previous night. That's when security forces fired live ammunition to disperse crowds in the holy city of Karbala.
One protester died of wounds suffered when a tear gas canister struck him in clashes earlier Tuesday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Protesters have also cut roads to block traffic from Karbala to the capital, Baghdad.
At least 350 people have been killed and thousands wounded since Iraq's protests started Oct. 1. Thousands of people have taken to the streets to decry government corruption, poor services and subpar jobs.
Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday claimed without evidence that recent protests across the Islamic Republic over government-set gasoline prices rising were part of a "conspiracy" involving the U.S., as authorities began to acknowledge the scale of the demonstrations.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comment while addressing members of the Revolutionary Guard's all-volunteer Basij force, which help put down the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, one lawmaker was quoted as saying authorities arrested more than 7,000 people over the protests while a security official claimed demonstrators attempted to take over Iranian state television.
Iran's government still hasn't offered any statistics on injuries, arrests or deaths in the protests and security crackdown that followed government-set gasoline prices rising Nov. 15. Amnesty International says it believes the violence killed at least 143 people, something Iran disputes without offering any evidence to support its claims.
In his comments reported by state media, Khamenei said the Iranian people extinguished "a very dangerous deep conspiracy that cost so much money and effort." He praised the police, the Guard and the Basij for "entering the field and carrying out their task in a very difficult confrontation."
Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state, described the protests as being orchestrated by "global arrogance," which he uses to refer to the U.S. He described America as seeing the price hikes as an "opportunity" to bring their "troops" to the field but the "move was destroyed by people."
Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Basij. Videos from the protest purport to show plainclothes Basij officials and others on motorcycles beating and detaining protesters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate within Iran's ruling Shiite theocracy, similarly blamed America for the protests without offering evidence. He called violent protesters "mercenaries" and "hooligans," alleging the U.S. sent money over two years to spark the demonstrations.
"We achieved a great national victory against superpowers," Rouhani said. "This great epic shows power of our people."
Meanwhile, the moderate news website Entekhab quoted Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, a member of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, as saying more than 7,000 people had been arrested in the demonstrations. He did not elaborate.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli also claimed in an interview late Tuesday on state television that "some 500 people" tried to storm Iran's state television offices. He did not elaborate and no protests had been previously reported in the northern Tehran neighborhood home to the state broadcaster.
Fazli also estimated as many as 200,000 people took part the demonstrations, higher than previous claims. He said demonstrators damaged over 50 police stations, as well as 34 ambulances, 731 banks and 70 gas stations in the country.
"We have individuals who were killed by knives, shotguns and fires," he said, without offering a casualty figure.
Starting Nov. 16, Iran shut down the internet across the country, limiting communications with the outside world. That made determining the scale and longevity of the protests incredibly difficult. While home and office internet has been restored, access on mobile phones had remained rare until Wednesday night. Reports suggested users regained mobile internet access in Tehran and eight other provinces.
The gasoline price hike came as Iran's 80 million people have already seen their savings dwindle and jobs scarce under crushing U.S. sanctions. President Donald Trump imposed them in the aftermath of unilaterally withdrawing America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
A key road in the Lebanese capital reopened Monday following clashes throughout the night between rival groups, some of the worst violence since protests against the country's ruling elite began last month.
The confrontations began Sunday evening after supporters of the country's two main Shiite political parties, the militant Hezbollah and the Amal Movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, attacked protesters who had blocked a main Beirut thoroughfare known as the Ring Road.
The young men arrived on scooters carrying clubs and metal rods and chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans, beating up several of the protesters. Both sides then threw stones at each other for hours as security forces formed a barrier to keep them apart. The clashes lasted until early Monday morning.
Lebanon's massive protests against corruption and mismanagement by the country's leaders are now in their second month, but have so far remained largely peaceful, unlike in Iraq were over 240 people have been killed during similar protests as security forces use overwhelming force against demonstrators.
In Lebanon, one person has been killed by security forces during the protests, although there have been four other deaths related to the protests since the demonstrations began on Oct. 17.
In areas close to the Ring Road on Monday, tents that had previously been erected by the protesters were all destroyed, as were some of the windshields of cars parked in the area of Riad Solh Square and the nearby Martyrs Square. Some shops had their windows smashed as well.
The Ring Road was notorious during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war as one of the most dangerous front lines, and at the same time a main crossing point during days of fragile cease-fires in the capital between the mostly Muslim west and the predominantly Christian east.
Closing roads and disrupting traffic has been a main tactic of the mostly leaderless protest movement, and the Ring Road has emerged as a flashpoint intersection.
The protests forced the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Oct. 29, and politicians have failed to agree on a new Cabinet since, despite a rapidly deteriorating economic crisis.
Iran-backed Hezbollah, which was part of Hariri's Cabinet, says the protests are being exploited by foreign powers with an agenda against the group. The group's supporters as well as supporters of Berri, the parliament speaker, have attacked the main protest camp in central Beirut on at least two other occasions, destroying tents set up by protesters.
Hezbollah and Amal are insisting that Hariri heads the next government and that it be made of politicians and technocrats. The outgoing prime minister is insisting on heading a Cabinet that is made up only of experts whose main job will be to try get Lebanon out of its worst economic and financial crisis in three decades.
Troops also reopened Monday the highways linking Beirut with the country's north and south as well as other roads in the eastern Bekaa Valley, which protesters had closed the previous day.
Turkey would seek alternatives if it could not acquire U.S. F-35 fighter jets, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Saturday.
"All should be aware that Turkey will have to look for alternatives if F-35s cannot be acquired for any reason," Akar said during an interview with Al Jazeera.
The Russia-made S-400 missile defense systems Turkey recently procured would not be integrated into the NATO systems within the Turkish defense system and would instead be part of a "stand-alone system," the minister stated.
"That's what we have been saying since the beginning (of the dispute with the United States) ... We are not going to integrate this with the NATO systems in any way," he said.
Akar emphasized that Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities as one of the partner countries in the F-35 program, and the U.S. should do its part accordingly.
He recalled that Ankara previously tried to acquire a U.S.-made Patriot defense system but that attempt was rejected by Washington, before Turkey decided to buy the S-400 system.
Turkey's procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems prompted the Trump administration to suspend Ankara's participation in the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.
Russia has expressed its readiness for a potential agreement with Turkey on the sale of Su-35 or Su-57 aircraft.
Iraqi security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds of protesters Saturday, killing two people in a third day of fierce clashes in central Baghdad, security and hospital officials said.
Two protesters were struck with rubber bullets and died instantly and over 20 others were wounded in the fighting on Rasheed Street, a famous avenue known for its old crumbling architecture and now littered with rubble from days of violence. Sixteen people have died and over 100 wounded in the renewed clashes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
At least 342 protesters have died in Iraq's massive protests, which started on Oct. 1 when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to decry corruption and lack of services despite Iraq's oil wealth.
Separately, Iraq's Parliament failed to hold a session Saturday due to lack of a quorum. Lawmakers were supposed to read reform bills introduced to placate protesters. The next session was postponed to Monday.
The fighting has centered on Rasheed Street and started on Thursday when protesters tried to dismantle a security forces barricade on the street, which leads to Ahrar Bridge, a span over the Tigris River that has been a repeated flashpoint. Security forces responded with barrages of tear gas and live ammunition.
The violence took off again Friday afternoon. Live rounds and tear gas cannisters were fired by security forces from behind a concrete barrier on Rasheed Street.
On Saturday, fighting picked up in the late afternoon and again in the evening, with security forces firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds.
Protesters have occupied part of three bridges — Ahrar, Jumhuriya and Sinak — in a standoff with security forces. The bridges lead to the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government.