Protesters regrouped Friday in protest-hit cities in Iraq’s south after a deadly crackdown by authorities killed dozens in one of the bloodiest days in two months of anti-government demonstrations.
Nearly 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded across the south on Thursday, according to medical sources, a day after the torching of Iran's consulate in the city of Najaf.
At least 16 of them died in Najaf, where on Friday a massive funeral procession wound its way through the city’s streets, carrying coffins.
Further south in Nasiriyah, demonstrators rallied in one of the main squares calling for the "fall of the regime", a day after 25 people died there.
Two other protesters were killed in the capital, Baghdad.
Baghdad and the south have been rocked by street unrest, with a protest movement venting fury at the government and its backers in Iran.
Thursday's violence brought the total death toll since the start of October to at least 408, with more than 15,000 wounded.
The escalation came after crowds outraged at Iran's political influence in Iraq stormed and burned down the country's consulate in Najaf, blaming it for propping up a government which they seek to topple.
In response, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi ordered military chiefs to deploy in several provinces to "impose security and restore order".
Iran closed the Mehran border crossing to Iraq on Thursday night because of security reasons, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported, citing a local border official.
"With attention to the recent events and the unrest in the country of Iraq the Mehran border has been closed from tonight," Mojtaba Soleimani, the manager of the border post said, according to Mehr.
Amnesty International denounced a "bloodbath" in Nasiriyah.
"The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning (Thursday) more closely resemble a war zone than city streets and bridges," said Lynn Maalouf of the London-based rights group.
"This bloodbath must stop now," she said.