Iraqis evacuate the streets after being urged to do so by a priest

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Armed followers of a powerful Iraqi imam who engaged security troops in street combat have started to leave the area.

After a significant escalation of the country's political crisis, armed supporters of a prominent Iraqi cleric who had clashed with security personnel in the capital started to leave the streets on Tuesday. This helped to restore some peace.

Clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his supporters to evacuate the government district where they had gathered after two days of violent violence that raised concerns that instability would spread throughout the nation and even the region.

Although there are still more serious political issues, the removal of a statewide curfew by the Iraqi military added to expectations that the crisis was abating.

Since al-party Sadr's received the biggest number of seats in the October legislative elections, but not enough to win a majority government, Iraq's government has remained impassed. 

When al-Sadr declared he would leave politics, mayhem ensued. Many saw the move as a ruse to increase his influence, and his supporters attacked the Green Zone, which used to be the U.S. military's bastion but is now the location of the Iraqi government and foreign embassies.

On Tuesday, his supporters can be seen on live tv launching rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns into the heavily-defended Green Zone as security personnel intermittently returned fire and armoured vehicles waited in line.

A few onlookers used their smartphones to record the battle, while the majority crouched behind walls and winced as shots rang out nearby.

After various Iraqi authorities and the UN pleaded for caution, at least 30 people were reported dead before al-Sadr told his supporters to return home.

In a televised address, the cleric declared, "This is not a revolution."

Al-Sadr, whose proclamations of revolution and change inspired his supporters to assault the parliament in July, apologised to the Iraqi people and stated he could not accept the bloodshed.

According to two Iraqi medical sources, approximately 400 people were also injured in addition to the scores of fatalities. Due to their lack of authorization to disclose the information to journalists, the officials talked on the condition of anonymity.