Thousands of Iraqis protest against war amid mounting US-Iran tensions

Thousands of Iraqis protest against war amid mounting US-Iran tensions
2 min read
Thousands of supporters of Iraq's influential Shia cleric held sit-ins around Iraq on Friday, demanding their country not be a battlefield between the US and Iran amid rising tensions.
The sit-ins come days after a rocket slammed into Baghdad's fortified Green Zone [Getty]

Thousands of supporters of an Iraqi populist Shia cleric held sit-ins around Iraq on Friday saying their country should not be a battlefield between the United States and Iran.

More than 3,000 people gathered on Friday night in central Tahrir Square, in Baghdad, chanting "no to war" and "yes to peace."

The demonstrators are supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, who recently said that any political party that would drag Iraq into a US-Iran war "would be the enemy of the Iraqi people."

In early May, the US accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Mideast and sent four B-52 bomber aircraft to the region. The Pentagon also decided to move a Patriot air-defense missile battery to an undisclosed country in the area.

The Trump administration has evacuated nonessential personnel from Iraq, amid unspecified threats the administration said are linked to Iranian-backed militias in the country.

Read more: Iraq to send delegations to US and Iran to 'halt tensions'

On Sunday, a rocket was fired into Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the sprawling US Embassy.

There were no injuries and no group claimed responsibility, but the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad - which is home to Iran-backed Shia militias.

Meanwhile, some Democrats believe Trump is responsible for drawing Iran's ire.

Last year he abruptly pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated during the Obama administration to prevent Iran from nuclear weapons production, without crafting a coherent strategy for how to combat other Iranian behaviour, like supporting extremist organisations.

He also has reimposed punishing sanctions that have since crippled Tehran's economy, and designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation in April.

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