Hundreds of people chanting anti-American slogans gathered in the Iraqi capital to mark the anniversary of the murder of a powerful Iranian general and a senior Iraqi militia official in a US drone strike
The crowd called for the expulsion of the remaining US forces from Iraq during the demonstration commemorating the airstrike at the Baghdad airport. The strike killed General Qassim Soleimani, who was the leader of the elite Iranian Quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. .
“We will not let you stay after today in the land of the martyrs,” read some of the signs. American and Israeli flags littered the ground, people trampling on them.
The murder of Soleimani and al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport pushed Iran and the United States dangerously close to all-out conflict and sparked outrage in Iraq, leading parliament to pass a resolution no binding a few days later calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq.
The US-led coalition officially ended its combat mission supporting Iraqi forces in the ongoing struggle against ISIS in late December. Some 2,500 troops will, however, remain for the foreseeable future to continue to support Iraqi forces in an advisory capacity. Some militia leaders insisted on the departure of all American troops.
“We will not accept anything less than a total withdrawal as revenge for the blood of our martyrs,” said Hadi al-Ameri, leader of an Iran-aligned coalition.
Supporters of Iran-aligned Shia factions were transported by bus from various Iraqi provinces to the rally in Jadriyah, near the headquarters of powerful militias.