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Rockets Strike Airport In Iraq's Basra As Tensions Remain High

An Iraqi protester takes a selfie while standing outside the burning headquarters of the Iranian Consulate in the southern city of Basra on September 7.

Security officials in the Iraqi port city of Basra, which has been rocked by several days of sometimes violent protests, say three rockets were fired at the city's airport on September 8.

There were no casualties in the incident and no disruption to airport operations.

The same day, Iraq's Health Ministry said at least 12 people were killed in the Basra protests, which began when some 30,000 people fell ill from polluted drinking water.

The ministry added that 50 people – 48 civilians and two police officers – had been injured during the protests.

On September 7, protesters set the Iranian Consulate on fire to protest what they see as Iran's excessive influence in Iraqi domestic affairs.

The Iranian government condemned the attack, in which there were no reported injuries.

"We expect the immediate arrest and punishment of the attackers," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.

The Iraqi parliament was expected to convene an extraordinary session on September 8 to discuss the protests.

Iran and Iraq -- enemies in a brutal eight-year war that ended in 1988 -- have developed close ties since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 by a U.S.-led invasion.

Shi'a-led Iran has become heavily involved in Iraq's political affairs and sponsors powerful Shi'ite militia groups that played a role in defeating Islamic State (IS) extremists last year.

Iraq's population is 60-65 percent Shi'ite, 15-20 percent Sunni Arab, and 17 percent Sunni Kurd, creating a tense balance of power in the country.

News agencies quoted Basra residents and protesters as saying they have become angered by corruption, mismanagement, and a collapse of infrastructure that has led to a loss of electricity and safe drinking water in the blazing summer heat.

Smaller protests have been reported in other cities, including the capital, Baghdad, and Karbala.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's national security council met on September 7 and said it was investigating the protests.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP