1000’s march in Baghdad on Soleimani assassination anniversary | Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Information
Mourners hold a mock funeral procession on the highway leading to the city’s airport, where the strike took place on Jan. 3, 2020.
A mock funeral procession in Iraq marked the first anniversary of the United States’ drone strike near Baghdad that killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Thousands of mourners joined the march on the highway to Baghdad Airport on Saturday evening, where the strike that killed the two men took place.
As the highway continued to be blocked by cars, protesters with posters of Soleimani and al-Muhandis adorned both sides of the street, lined with tents where food and drinks were served for walkers.
The scene of the bombing was turned into a shrine-like area sealed by red ropes, with a photo of Soleimani and al-Muhandis in the middle as mourners lit candles.
Flowers near pictures of Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]Traces of splinters were still visible on the asphalt and the surrounding walls.
Soleimani headed the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which was responsible for the Islamic Republic’s overseas operations and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
His assassination dramatically increased tension in the region and brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.
Protesters in Baghdad celebrate the first anniversary of Soleimani’s murder [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, who reports from Baghdad, said more protests are expected across Iraq on Sunday.
“The protests focus on demanding that the Iraqi government put pressure on the Americans to withdraw the remaining soldiers from the country,” he said.
“Meanwhile, people on the streets are concerned about a possible escalation or deterioration in the security of this country.”
The procession in Baghdad took place when the Iraqi military said explosives experts with their naval forces had successfully dismantled a mine that had been stuck on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf two days earlier.
Saturday’s statement said the Iraqi authorities had opened an investigation into the incident. Neither group took responsibility for the placement of the mine.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased in the run-up to the first anniversary of the assassination of the Iranian Colonel General.
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, Iran condemned the US “military adventurism” in the Gulf and Oman as well as “false information, unfounded allegations and threatened rhetoric” against Tehran.
The day before, the US military flew two nuclear weapons-grade B-52 bombers over the Gulf to deter Iran. This was the latest in a series of such moves over the past month.
“New intelligence agencies from Iraq suggest that Israeli agent provocateurs are planning attacks against Americans – by associating an outgoing Trump with a fake casus belli (act that justifies the war),” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a tweet about Saturday.
“Watch out for a trap, @realDonaldTrump. Any fireworks will backfire badly, ”wrote Zarif.
With less than a month in the White House, Trump is under pressure from key Middle Eastern allies Israel and Saudi Arabia to crack down on Iran, said Danny Postel, assistant director of the Center for International and Territorial Studies at Northwestern University Al Jazeera.
“Trump is a very wounded and very angular animal in an endgame scenario. He still has a few weeks left and we know that he is capable of extremely unpredictable behavior, ”said Postel, an expert on Iran and US foreign policy.