Major crowds convene in streets of Baghdad to denounce US military presence in Iraq
Major crowds have gathered in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to denounce US military presence in the country after the US assassinated Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was Second-in-Command of the Iraq's PMU, in Baghdad earlier this month.
Iraq's al-Ahd news network reported on Friday that Iraqis from "all of the country's provinces" have gathered in the city.
The protesters were seen carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of US terrorist forces.
The demonstrators are planned to gather in the intersection of Baghdad University in the Jadriyah neighborhood.
According to Reuters, new checkpoints were installed across the capital by late Thursday afternoon in anticipation of the major rally.
Iraqis in holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, were also seen boarding buses heading towards the capital.
The rally comes after Influential Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations" last week.
On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all US-led forces in the country two days after Washington assassinated Lt. Gen. Soleimani and al-Muhandis.
Speaking on Thursday ahead of the planned rallies, Sadr called on Iraqis to mobilize and defend the country's independence and sovereignty.
"Oh women, men and youth of the country, the time is now upon us to defend the country, its sovereignty and dependence," Sadr said in a tweet.
Various Iraqi resistance groups affiliated with the country's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have also backed the anti-American rally.
Qais al-Khazali, Leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, has described Friday's rallies as a "second revolution" a century after the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920.
Iraqis staged mass demonstrations against British forces that had occupied Iraq at the time.