Iraqi President Barham Salih has condemned the recent attacks on protesters and journalists and urged security forces to preserve the rights of Iraqis.

Salih said the ongoing protest movement came against the backdrop of misery and grievances felt by Iraqi citizens.

“The youth who died in the demonstrations have left a wound on the chests that cannot be healed simply by assurances. What happened should be considered sedition and crime which cannot be tolerated,” Salih said in a televised address on Monday.

Salih, whose role is normally above the day-to-day political fray, called on the armed forces to abide by rules of engagement and avoid using live ammunition.

"...Our armed forces which have protected the country and the people in the most serious confrontations with terrorism, are also capable of protecting citizens and their peaceful democratic practices in conditions of peace," Salih's office quoted him as saying earlier in the day.