Tehran: Thousands of Iraqi mourners have condemned the “American occupiers”, a year after a United States drone strike killed Iran’s revered general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The anniversary of their deaths in Baghdad – which brought arch enemies the US and Iran to the brink of war – was also marked on Sunday in Iran and by supporters in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Streets leading to central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square were packed with thousands of protesters who had converged on the site since early Sunday morning.
The protesters raised pictures of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, and flags of Iraq, the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), of which al-Muhandis was a leader, and other Iraqi factions.
They also carried banners with slogans demanding the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and chanted for retaliation against those who carried out the assassination.
Addressing the protesters, the head of Hashd al-Shaabi, Faleh al-Fayyad, vowed retaliation against those who carried out the crime and called for the US troops to leave Iraq.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, said the Iraqi protesters were demanding the immediate, swift withdrawal of all remaining US troops in Iraq.
“They are also demanding a continuation of the kind of heated rhetoric that we’ve heard in a couple of days around the anniversary of the assassination of the leader of the Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani. They are demanding and promising revenge,” he said.