Baghdad – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Baghdad on Saturday for a previously unannounced visit expected to focus on weeks-long turmoil in the country.
This is according to Iraqi government sources.
The sources said that Pence would meet with Iraq’s top leaders including Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi and parliament head Mohammed al-Halbousi.
The U.S. official was also expected to visit U.S. troops based in western Iraq.
Street protests have raged in Iraq since early October, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system, which has been in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country.
Around 330 people, mostly protesters, have died in the demonstrations which have mainly affected Baghdad and the oil-rich south, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.
Several rights groups have accused the Iraqi security forces of using excessive violence to quell the protests.
The demonstrations are Iraq’s largest since Dec. 2017 when Baghdad declared the liberation of all territory previously under the control of Islamic State militants in a U.S.-backed military campaign.