Iraq continues to witness violent protests in the country as its people continue to challenge its political establishment killing hundreds of people, and amidst all this the United States on Sunday urged Iraqi authorities to hold early polls and carry out electoral reforms and called for an end to the violence against protesters.

Washington wants “the Iraqi government to halt the violence against protesters and fulfill President (Barham) Saleh’s promise to pass electoral reform and hold early elections,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States is seriously concerned by continued attacks against protestors, civic activists, and the media, as well as restrictions on internet access, in Iraq,” it said.

Mass rallies calling for an overhaul of the ruling system have rocked the capital Baghdad and the Shiite-majority south since October 1, but political forces closed ranks this week to defend the government.

The consensus among the elite seems to have paved the way for a crackdown. Parliament’s human rights committee says that 319 people have been killed and 15,000 injured, since protests first erupted, including demonstrators and security forces. The committee said snipers were active near protest sites and hunting rifles were used against demonstrators as well.

Iraqi protesters struggled to keep up their anti-government sit-ins following a deadly crackdown by security forces that Amnesty International warned could turn into a “bloodbath.” According to Al Jazeera, the security forces have been deliberately attacking the medics who are trying to provide medical aid to the injured protesters.