Iraqis streamed to the city of Najaf for a big anti-U.S. protest called by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the fourth anniversary of the fall of the Baghdad.
"No, no to America, yes, yes to Moqtada," thousands of marching Iraqis, mainly men and young boys waving Iraqi flags, chanted as they marched through the Shi'ite holy southern city.
Iraq announced a 24-hour vehicle ban in Baghdad starting at 5 a.m. (0100 GMT) to prevent car bombers launching attacks on the anniversary.
Sadr, who blames the U.S.-led invasion for Iraq's unrelenting violence, issued a statement on Sunday urging Iraqis to protest against the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
"In order to end the occupation, you will go out and demonstrate," said Sadr, who had been keeping a low profile in recent months.
The U.S. military says Sadr, who leads the Mehdi Army that is blamed for fuelling sectarian strife with minority Sunni Muslims, is in neighboring Iran. His aides say the cleric is in Iraq and have denied suggestions he fled to escape the security crackdown.
Saddam had vowed to defeat an invasion launched by the United States and Britain on March 20, 2003 to oust him, but his forces offered little resistance as U.S. forces thrust deep into the heart of the Iraqi capital.
By then the war had cost 96 American dead, 30 British dead and unknown thousands of Iraqi military and civilian casualties.
Four years later those tolls have soared to more than 3,270 U.S. soldiers killed, 140 British soldiers, 124 from other nations, and tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Four U.S. soldiers were killed in attacks south of Baghdad on Sunday while another two died from wounds suffered in operations north of the capital, the U.S. military said.
The toll brought to 10 the number of soldiers killed at the weekend and 35 in the first eight days of April.
U.S. President George W. Bush is sending 30,000 more troops to Iraq, mainly to Baghdad for the security crackdown.
Bush has insisted U.S. troops will not leave until Iraqis can take over security and has repeatedly rejected setting a timetable for withdrawal.
He has vowed to veto legislation approved last month by narrow margins in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the House of Representatives that would impose a troop withdrawal timetable.
Opinion polls show most Americans are now opposed to the four-year-old war and support the Democrats' plan. U.S. military commanders say the Baghdad security plan is working and needs time to show results.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16