Iraqis flock to city for anti-U.S. protest

Thousands of Iraqis streamed to the holy southern city of Najaf on Sunday in response to a call by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for a big anti-American protest on Monday.

Iraqis flock to city for anti-U.S. protest
Thousands of Iraqis streamed to the holy southern city of Najaf on Sunday in response to a call by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for a big anti-American protest on Monday.

Sadr, who blames the U.S.-led invasion for Iraq's unrelenting violence, has urged Iraqis to protest on the fourth anniversary of the day American forces swept into central Baghdad.

"In order to end the occupation, you will go out and demonstrate," Sadr, who accuses U.S. forces of deliberately fomenting civil strife in Iraq, said in a statement.

Four American 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 makes it a deadly weekend for American troops after four soldiers were killed in an explosion near their vehicle in Diyala province north of Baghdad on Saturday.

A car bomb killed 17 people and wounded two dozen in the town of Mahmudiya south of Baghdad, officials said, in the latest attack outside Baghdad since a new U.S.-backed security plan took effect in the capital.

Sadr, who has been keeping a low profile, called on his Mehdi Army and Iraqi security forces to stop fighting in the city of Diwaniya and stop playing into the hands of U.S. forces who he said had stirred up civil strife.

Brigadier Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for a U.S.-Iraqi security operation in Baghdad, said a 24-hour vehicle ban would be in force in the capital from 5 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Monday.

Thousands of Shi'ites rode buses or cars to Najaf on Sunday, responding to Sadr's call.

The Baghdad-Najaf road was packed with hundreds of vehicles crammed with passengers waving Iraqi flags and chanting religious and anti-U.S. slogans.

"No, no, no to America ... Moqtada, yes, yes, yes," they chanted as they converged on the holy city.

Witnesses in some southern towns said Iraqi police were trying to stop Sadr's supporters from getting to Najaf.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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