US-led coalition 'monitoring' Iraq protests following Green Zone attack
At least 19 people have been killed, nearly all protesters, since demonstrations erupted over the weekend against endemic corruption and poor public services, which the US-led coalition said is "deeply concerning".
"The Coalition is monitoring reports of protests. We call on all sides to reduce tensions and reject violence. The loss of life and injuries - among civilians and Iraqi Security Forces - is deeply concerning," Col. Myles B. Caggins III Coalition Spokesman said in a statement.
"We believe that peaceful, public rallies are a fundamental element of all democracies; there is no place for violence in those demonstrations. We rely on protection from Iraqi Security Forces."
An explosion in Baghdad's International Zone on Thursday morning have led to concerns that US and other foreign troops could become targets if further unrest unfolds.
The US has scaled back its military presence in the country, but servicemen and women remain in the country, mostly concentrated in the north to help fight the last remnants of the Islamic State group in Iraq.
Although there are fewer American soldiers in Iraq than since the heydays of the Iraq civil war - sparked by the US-led invasion of the country - they have come under fire from Iran-linked militias, while the Green Zone-based embassy has also been targeted by mortar fire.
The coalition warned that American troops have the right to defend themselves if they come under attack.
"This morning's explosion in the International Zone are under investigation by Iraqi Security Forces; we appreciate the ISF's rapid response. No coalition facility was struck," said Caggins.
"Coalition troops always reserve the right to defend ourselves, attacks on our personnel will not be tolerated. The Coalition is here at the invitation of the Government of Iraq, and we continue to support them in the mission to defeat Daesh (IS) remnants and achieve long-term regional security."
The US-led coalition was formed following the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria in 2014, which had taken over much of the country's north. They have now been defeated but IS cells have carried out a number of attacks in northern Iraq.