Iraqi security forces clashed with protesters, wounding seven of them in Baghdad on Saturday after authorities began to remove concrete barriers erected for months near a main anti-government demonstration site, medics and Reuters witnesses said.
Police in Basra meanwhile raided a sit-in overnight and deployed in force early on Saturday in an attempt to clear the main protest camp and open up roads blocked off by demonstrators in the southern city, security sources said.
The security forces arrested 16 demonstrators in Basra, the sources said.
The moves by security forces, which appeared to be aimed at ending months of anti-government unrest, came after supporters of the powerful populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr began packing up their tents and leaving sit-ins.
Sadr wrote on Twitter late on Friday that he would halt any involvement by his supporters in demonstrations that have called since October for the removal of Iraq's ruling elite.