Nearly 550 Iraqis have been killed in protest-related violence since unprecedented anti-government demonstrations erupted in the capital and southern cities in October, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said on Friday.\r\nIraq\u2019s health ministry confirmed the first protester shot dead on October 1 but clammed up thereafter. The Commission has since repeatedly complained that authorities declined its requests for information on deaths, injuries, and arrests.\r\nThe Commission, which is government-funded but operates independently, became the only source for death tolls until it too faced pressure last year to stop reporting.\r\nIt has resumed its public reporting and on Friday shared its latest statistics with AFP, showing that 543 people have been killed since October, including 276 in Baghdad alone.\r\n\r\n\r\nAn anti-government protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by riot police during clashes in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP)\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSeventeen members of the security forces are among the dead nationwide, according to the updated list. The remaining are all protesters or activists, including 22 who were assassinated.\r\nUp to 30,000 more have been wounded during the rallies, according to medical sources.\r\nIraq\u2019s security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas, smoke bombs, and even machine gun fire to try to disperse rallies in the capital and Shiite-majority south.\r\nThe Commission found that many of the wounded or killed were shot by live rounds, but Iraq\u2019s government has repeatedly denied its security forces are shooting at the protesters.\r\nOthers have died when military-grade tear gas canisters have pierced their skulls or chests, after security forces improperly fired such equipment.\r\nThe Commission did not lay blame on any particular side but protesters themselves have singled out armed factions and the military wings of political parties, alongside the security forces.\r\nThe United Nations, for its part, has accused unnamed \u201cmilitias\u201d for a vast campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and threats.\r\nThe Commission has documented more than 2,700 arrests, with 328 people still detained. Another 72 Iraqis are categorized as disappeared.