Baghdad: Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Baghdad to protest against the presence of US troops in Iraq.
Protesters gathered in the Al Jadriyah neighbourhood of the capital after Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr called on Iraqis to demonstrate, reports Efe news.
Participants carried Iraqi flags and banners written in both Arabic and English with slogans such as: “No, no, to the US”, “Yes, yes to the Iraqi sovereignty”, or “Global terrorism is carried out in the United States of America”.
Supporters of the cleric sported t-shirts and placards with his picture.
As in many other protests, demonstrators burned pictures of US President Donald Trump.
Friday’s demonstration comes three weeks after a US attack near Baghdad airport killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and several Iraqi Shiite militia leaders on January 3.
Days after the strike, Iraq’s Parliament approved a process for the departure of US troops from the country.
“If the US meets these demands then it will not be an aggressor country,” Al Sadr said in a statement read by one of his advisors in front of the protesters in Al Jadriyah.
“If it violates the conditions and specified time it will be a hostile country.”
Al Sadr announced several demands, including the closure of all US military bases and security companies in Iraq.
In addition, he requested the cancellation of all security agreements with “the occupant”.
Al Sadr said they will resort to all peaceful means until their demands are met and all the soldiers leave Iraq.
After the death of General Soleimani, Al Sadr, who supports the largest alliance of political parties in Iraq’s Parliament, called on combatants to “be prepared” to face the Americans again.
Al Sadr led the 2003 insurgency after the US invasion of Iraq, despite not being aligned with Iran and has even supported popular protests against the government and foreign presence in the country, including the Iranian.
Iraq has been rocked with protests in recent months.
Pro-democracy activists have sporadically taken over party of central Baghdad calling for an end to corruption and Iranian and US influence in Iraqi politics. Human rights groups have denounced alleged police violence against those protesters.
Over 500 people are thought to have been killed in clashes.
Shia militias have also protested against the US specifically. Demonstrations outside the US embassy in late December came just before the US decided to take out Soleimani.