Iraqi people take to streets and demand US troops leave country

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi protesters have hit the street in Baghdad after the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for a “million-strong” march to demand the withdraw of U.S. coalition forces from the country.

NBC News Tehran Bureau Chief & correspondent Ali Arouzi said hundreds of thousands of protesters marched across Baghdad on Friday, demanding U.S. troops leave the country and close all military bases and embassies.

Protestors held signs that read “no, no to America” and “no, no to occupation” amid a sea of nationalism and anti-Americanism erupting across the country’s capital.

Iraq people demand US troops military leave

Others were heard on loudspeakers blasting the phrase: “Death to America. Death to Israel.”

The presence of U.S. coalition forces in the country has become a hot subject since President Trump launched a drone attack on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killing both, earlier this month near Baghdad International Airport.

The Green Zone, the International Zone of Baghdad and home of the U.S. embassy, has been peppered with rocket attacks since the killing of Soleimani.

Iraq’s parliament voted to expel all foreign troops, including 5,000 U.S. forces from the country, and asked the government to cancel assistance from the U.S.-led coalition that has been working with the Iraqi Army in the eradication of ISIS.

A senior U.S. official said Thursday that the Trump administration has yet to hold talks with Iraq about U.S. troops exiting the country.

Several weeks ago, President Trump threatened severe sanctions against Iraq if its parliament enforced a law that would expel U.S. troops from the country.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase, that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters.

Twitter users have documented Friday’s massive protest, and Aurora Intel said: “the main street being used in #Baghdad, #Iraq for the protests) and using 4 people per m2 this meets a rough estimate of 600000 people able to be at this protest, if i’ve got the right location.”

Here are other social media accounts detailing the protest:

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