On The First Anniversary Of Qassem Soleimani’s Death, Iraqis Protest The United States

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As tensions with Iran ratchet up during the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s central square on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.

Chanting anti-American slogans, some demanded revenge for the deaths of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were killed by a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, 2020.

Roads leading to Tahrir Square were closed off and security was tight as the crowds gathered in response to a powerful Iraqi militia’s call for a rally to protest the targeted assassination near Baghdad’s airport and call for the U.S. troops’ withdrawal.

A mock funeral procession attended by thousands of people was also held along the road to the airport on Saturday.

Posters of the general and al-Muhandis adorned both sides of the road leading to the airport and the scene of the bombing was turned into a shrine-like area sealed off by red ropes. A picture of Soleimani and al-Muhandis was placed in the middle, as mourners lit candles.

Shrapnel marks were still visible on the asphalt and walls in the area.

The protests were held less than 24 hours after Iran said it was planning to enrich uranium up to 20 percent at its underground Fordo nuclear facility “as soon as possible,” pushing its program a technical step away from weapons-grade levels.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that Tehran had informed its inspectors of the decision, adding that it “has inspectors present in Iran on a 24/7 basis and they have regular access to Fordo.”

It added Iran did not say when it planned to boost enrichment.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to Twitter on Saturday to suggest that intelligence from Iraq indicated “Israeli agent-provocateurs” were plotting attacks against Americans.

This would put Trump “in a bind with a fake casus belli,” he wrote.

“Be careful of a trap, @realDonaldTrump. Any fireworks will backfire badly, particularly against your same BFFs,” Zarif added, in what appeared to be a veiled threat against Israel.

It added Iran did not say when it planned to boost enrichment.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to Twitter on Saturday to suggest that intelligence from Iraq indicated “Israeli agent-provocateurs” were plotting attacks against Americans.

This would put Trump “in a bind with a fake casus belli,” he wrote.

“Be careful of a trap, @realDonaldTrump. Any fireworks will backfire badly, particularly against your same BFFs,” Zarif added, in what appeared to be a veiled threat against Israel.

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