BAGHDAD (Associated Press) – Thousands of Iraqis gathered in a central Baghdad square on Sunday to commemorate the killing of a powerful Iranian general and senior Iraqi militia leader by a US drone.
The streets leading to Tahrir Square were closed and strict security measures were applied when crowds gathered in response to the call of the Popular Mobilization Forces – a powerful Iraqi militia often backed by Iran – to demonstrate on the occasion. And they demand the expulsion of American forces from Iraq.
The killing of General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis put Tehran and Washington in dangerous proximity to open conflict and sparked outrage in Iraq. In light of this, parliament approved days later a non-binding resolution urging all foreign forces in the country.
Sunday’s meeting took place amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Washington conducted reconnaissance flights for B-52 bombers and sent a nuclear submarine to the Persian Gulf in response to what Trump administration officials described as a possible Iranian attack on the anniversary of the attack on Baghdad airport in which they were killed. Soleimani and the engineer.
Thousands of Iraqis, carrying Iraqi flags, militias and posters of the two men, marched to Tahrir Square to participate in Sunday’s march, demanding the withdrawal of US forces in implementation of the Parliament’s decision.
Soleimani commanded the elite Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for the Islamic Republic’s operations abroad, and he traveled frequently to Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Al-Muhandis was the most powerful militia leader in Iraq and served as deputy commander of the Malian armed forces.
The deaths of both of them greatly increased tensions in the area. Tehran launched a counterattack with a barrage of ballistic missiles on two Iraqi bases housing US soldiers, some of whom were bruised. Iranian officials hinted that there would be more retaliation.