"No to America": Thousands of Iraqis rally against US military presence

Elias Hubbard
January 25, 2020

Sadr is also known in Iraq for his considerable militia, known as Soraya Salaam, or the Peace Brigades, who, although they did not come armed to the protest squares, posed a veiled threat to the government and others who wanted to see the protesters retired.

Many protesters in that rally were supporters of powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who had called a million of people to join Friday's march.

Gunmen wounded two doctors in a drive-by shooting in Nasariya.

Baghdad, Jan 25 (SocialNews.XYZ) Iraqi security forces on Saturday reopened bridges, squares and roads across the country, which were blocked during the past few months by anti-government protests over lack of jobs and basic service.

Three protesters were shot dead on Saturday in Iraq's capital and south, medics told AFP, as demonstrators clashed with security forces clearing streets and squares occupied for months by protesters.

Images posted online showed riot police had set fire to protest tents, with protesters deserting camps they had held for months in Baghdad.

It also pushed protesters out of Tayaran Square and Mohammad Qasim highway, where new sit-ins this week were meant to pressure authorities into enacting long-awaited reforms.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, security forces raided Baghdad's main protest site at Tahrir Square and fired live rounds and tear gas at anti-government demonstrators.

Sadr, a militiaman-turned-politician, is notorious for switching political positions with dizzying speed.

"The fact that millions of Iraqi people attended the rally showed that the US threat to impose sanctions against that country is a rotten tool that can not impact the determination of governments and nations that are after their independence and national sovereignty", Shamkhani said on Friday, ISNA reported.

Al Sadr's tweet came just hours after tens of thousands of his followers staged a separate anti-US rally in a nearby Baghdad neighbourhood, which most demonstrators in the square steered clear of.

In Hilla, Diwaniyah, Kut, Amarah and the Shiite shrine city of Najaf, tents were stripped down to their metal frames on Saturday.

Huge crowds of men, women and children of all ages converged on the Jadriyah neighborhood near Baghdad University, with protesters carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of U.S. forces.

One young activist in Baghdad accused Sadr of greenlighting a wider crackdown by pulling political cover. More than 450 people died in the violence, according to a Reuters count of police and doctors.

The US killing of the top Iranian military commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, on 3 January at Baghdad airport has fuelled tensions.

Official Baghdad, for its part, blamed Washington for breaching its sovereignty, with the lawmakers of the Islamic republic having passed a non-binding resolution calling on the government to expel all foreign troops from the country.

Iran retaliated by launching a wave of missiles at U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.

Thirty-four USA service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries since the attack on bases.

It was an unprecedented attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, who had faced a wave of smaller, proxy assaults in recent months that killed one United States contractor and one Iraqi soldier.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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