Issued on: 24/01/2020 – 10:37Modified: 24/01/2020 – 10:37

Hundreds of supporters of an influential, radical Shi'ite cleric gathered Friday in central Baghdad for a rally to demand that American troops leave the country amid heightened tensions after a US drone strike earlier this month killed a top Iranian general in the Iraqi capital.

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Since mid-morning on the Muslim day of prayers, loudspeakers blasted “No, no America!” at a central square in the Iraqi capital. A child held up a poster reading, “Death to America. Death to Israel”.

Roads and bridges leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government and home to several foreign embassies, including the US Embassy, were blocked off by concrete barriers. Iraqi security forces stood guard, blocking access to the gates to the zone.

There was a heavy security presence as the protesters, mostly hailing from the capital but also Iraq's southern provinces, walked on foot to an assembly point in Baghdad's Jadriya neighborhood, waving Iraqi flags and wearing symbolic white shrouds.

Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose party won the most number of seats in the May 2018 parliamentary elections, had called for a “million-man” demonstration to demand the withdrawal of American troops following the US drone strike near Baghdad's airport that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an attack that sparked the ire of Iraqi officials from across the political spectrum.

Friday's rally is supported by mainstream Shi'ite parties, including al-Sadr's political rival Hadi al-Ameri, who heads theRead More – Source

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