Iraqis protest on anniversary of Qasem Soleimani's death

Iranian officials pledged to avenge the commander's killing by the United States, but there were no military conflicts on the one-year anniversary.

al-monitor Iraqi demonstrators lift flags and placards as they rally in Tahrir Square in the capital, Baghdad, on Jan. 3, 2021, to mark one year after a US drone strike killed Iran's revered commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, near the capital.  Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images).

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revenge, islamic revolutionary guard corps, mohammad javad zarif, baghdad, protests, anniversary, qasem soleimani

Jan 4, 2021

Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad on Sunday to commemorate the death of Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Iranian officials vowed revenge against the United States on the one-year anniversary of his death, but the day came and went without any major escalations.

Protesters gathered in the center of the Iraqi capital and chanted anti-American slogans. Some of the demonstrators were supporters of Iran-backed militias within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), The Associated Press reported.

Soleimani led Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. On Jan. 3, 2020, the US military assassinated Soleimani via drone strike while he was in a vehicle at Baghdad International Airport. PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the strike. Iran struck US military positions in Iraq days later in retaliation.

Iranian officials hinted that there would be more revenge on the anniversary of the killing. In September, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that avenging the death “is not closed.” In December, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there would be “definite” revenge.

In anticipation of a possible Iranian attack, the US military ordered the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to remain in the Middle East on Sunday.

Protesters burned American flags and chanted “No, no to America,” according to The AP. Some also stormed the airport where Soleimani was killed, Iranian state media reported.

Tensions between the United States and Iran are at a high as US President Donald Trump completes his final days in office. President-elect Joe Biden has stated a desire to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.

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