A group of unarmed volunteers nicknamed the «Blue Hats» gathered in the centre of Baghdad, Thursday, as part of efforts to ensure the safety of protesters after a string of gun and knife attacks killed dozens last week.
«We are here to protect the protesters only, not for any other reason. We also help the wounded and injured protesters, provide the medical equipment needed and supply them with... Еще food and logistics,» said Jamal Aldaraji, a leader of the Blue Hats.
Last Friday at least 17 people were reported killed, and dozens wounded after unidentified gunmen opened fire on protesters in Baghdad's Khilani Square, the same day as at least 13 people were stabbed in Tahrir Square. A string of deadly knife attacks were also reported that week.
The volunteer group is reportedly affiliated with Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whose house was allegedly targeted by a drone in Najaf on Saturday.
Unrest in Iraq began in October amid anger over corruption and economic inequality. Over 400 protesters have been killed and thousands more injured in the violence, say reports citing activists.