Iraq polls open amid security concerns

Polls opened Wednesday in Iraq amid security concerns in the first parliamentary elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops three years ago.

Polls opened Wednesday in Iraq amid security concerns in the first parliamentary elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops three years ago.

BAGHDAD – Polls opened Wednesday in Iraq amid security concerns in the first parliamentary elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops three years ago.

Iraqis started flocking to the polling stations across the country as of 4am GMT to elect 328 members of the new parliament. Around 20 million Iraqis have the right to vote.

The voting is taking place amid myriad security challenges inside Iraq, particularly in the western and northern parts of the country where government forces are battling militant groups, which Baghdad links to Al-Qaeda network.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who cast his ballot in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, vowed the government will hold "successful" elections despite security challenges and logistic problems.

"Terrorism and political differences posed major challenges, and [some groups] bet that the government would not be able to hold the polls…And here we hold the elections with big success, even better than past polls," he said as he emerged from the polling station in Baghdad.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency