Thousands of people gathered in the Iraqi capital to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of a respected Iranian commander and his Iraqi lieutenant in a U.S. drone attack.
Demonstrators chanted “Death of America” and packed Baghdad Square to commemorate the Iranian general Qassim SoleimaniHe led the Quds Force, the foreign combat unit of the Elite Revolutionary Guard, until his death on January 3, 2020.
“U.S. terrorism must end,” a slogan read by pro-Iranian Hashid supporters at the rally, also known as People’s mobilization (PMF), a former paramilitary coalition, has now been incorporated into Iraq’s national security agency.
“We will not let you stay in the land of the martyrs after today,” another placard read. The flags of the United States and Israel were scattered on the ground, and people trampled on them.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdul Wahid said the protesters are using the rally as an opportunity to reiterate their demands for the full withdrawal of American and foreign troops from Iraq.
He said in Baghdad: “Thousands of protesters and members of the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Force have chanted against the presence of the United States and American troops in Iraq.”
“They blamed [Iraqi] The government believes that it is cooperating with the U.S. military,” he continued. “Since the killing of General Qassim Soleimani and General Abu Mahdi Mohandis, the investigations in the past two years have not had any clarity or clarity. transparency. “
Supporters of the Shi’ite faction allied with Iran took a bus from Iraq’s provinces to a gathering in Jadriah near the headquarters of the powerful armed group.
Former US President Donald Trump ordered an attack near the Baghdad airport, killing Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant and Hashid’s deputy Abu Mahdi Mohandis.
Trump later stated that the assassination was a response to the attack on US interests in Iraq.
The killing of Soleimani (the creator of Iran’s Middle East military strategy) and Mohandis caused shock waves throughout the region and raised concerns about decades of direct military confrontation between rivals Washington and Tehran.
A few days later, the Iraqi Parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq.
Iran, which has considerable influence in neighboring Iraq, has warned that it will avenge Soleimani’s death.
Five days after the killings, Iran fired missiles at an air base in Iraq, which is located near Erbil in the north.
Since then, dozens of rockets and roadside bombs have attacked Western security, military and diplomatic sites across Iraq.
Iraqi and Western officials blamed the attacks on hardline pro-Iranian factions, and no organization has ever claimed these attacks.
Last February, the United States implemented Air raid Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary force Kataeb Hezbollah is stationed on the Iraq-Syria border after its Embassy in Baghdad and a US military contracting company in the north of the capital were attacked by rockets.
Hashid has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq as part of a multinational alliance fighting the Islamic State of IS (ISIS).
High-ranking Hashid official Fal Fayez reiterated this request on Saturday, calling the killing of Soleimani and Mohandis a “crime that violated the sovereignty of Iraq.”
In December, Iraq announced the end of the “combat mission” of the anti-ISIL coalition headed by the United States there. However, approximately 2,500 American soldiers and 1,000 coalition forces will continue to be deployed in Iraq to provide training, advice, and assistance to the national army.
Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the alliance with Iran, said: “We will not accept any incomplete withdrawal as revenge for the blood of our martyrs.”