The first anniversary of the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis witnessed charged up anti US sentiments as thousands of Iraqis gathered at the Baghdad Central square and raised anti US slogans.
On 3 January 2020, a United States drone strike near Baghdad International Airport targeted and killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani while purportedly on his way to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad. Soleimani was commander of the Quds Force, one of five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and was considered the second most powerful person of Iran, subordinate to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Five Iraqi nationals and four other Iranian nationals were killed alongside Soleimani, including the deputy chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and commander of the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis – a person designated as a terrorist by the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Pictures of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, and flags of Iraq, the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were visible in plenty in the hands of the protestors. There were also slogans that demanded the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.