Rally in Baghdad marks the anniversary of the Iranian general’s death; US and Israeli flags trampled
BAGHDAD – Hundreds of people shouted anti-American slogans on Saturday and gathered in the Iraqi capital to celebrate the anniversary of the assassination of a powerful Iranian general and a leading Iraqi militia leader in a US drone strike.
The crowd called for the remaining American forces to be evacuated from Iraq during the demonstration to commemorate the airstrike on Baghdad airport. The attack killed General Qassim Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
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“After today we will not let you stay in the land of the martyrs,” it says on some posters. American and Israeli flags were scattered on the ground and people trampled on them.
The assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport put Iran and the United States dangerously close to widespread conflict and sparked outrage in Iraq.
The US-led coalition officially ended its combat mission in support of the Iraqi armed forces in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State in late December. However, around 2,500 soldiers will remain for the foreseeable future to provide advisory support to the Iraqi armed forces. Some militia leaders have insisted on the withdrawal of all US troops.
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“We will accept nothing less than complete withdrawal as revenge for the blood of our martyrs,” said Hadi al-Ameri, head of an Iranian coalition.
Supporters of the Shiite groups allied with Iran were called up from various Iraqi provinces for the rally in Jadriyah, near the headquarters of the powerful militias.