Dozens of Iraqi protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the Shia holy city of Karbala, scaling the concrete barriers ringing the building, bringing down an Iranian flag and replacing it with the Iraqi flag, eyewitnesses said.

Security forces fired in the air to disperse the protesters who threw stones and burned tyres around the building on a street corner in Karbala south of Baghdad.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the incident, which comes amid ongoing protests in the capital Baghdad and majority-Shia provinces in the south. The protests are directed at a postwar political system and a class of elite leaders that Iraqis accuse of pillaging the country's wealth while the country grows poorer.

But protesters have also directed their rage at neighbouring Iran and the powerful Iraqi Shia militias tied to it.


The anti-government protests in Karbala, Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq have often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings and headquarters of Iran-backed militias. More than 250 people have been killed in the security crackdown this month.

The protests have grown and demonstrators are now calling for sweeping changes, not just the Government's resignation.

Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square and across southern Iraq in recent days, calling for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 US-led invasion. Protesters have also taken over a large tower in the square that was abandoned after it was damaged in the war.

In neighbouring Lebanon, tens of thousands of people held competing rallies, including thousands who flocked to the presidential palace in support of the country's president and others who gathered in downtown Beirut as part of ongoing protests that aim to sweep from power Lebanon's entire political elite.

The leaderless anti-government movement has united Lebanese from various religious sects, who are calling for the overthrow of the political system that has dominated the country since its 1975-1990 civil war.

The agreement ending the war distributed power among Christians, Shias and Sunnis, but led to decades of corruption and economic mismanagement culminating in a severe fiscal crisis.