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Thousands converge for anti-US rally in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq

Thousands of Iraqis gathered in the Baghdad city center on Friday at a rally against the presence of U.S. troops in the country.

The demonstrators responded to a call by Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who called for a million-man march to demand the ouster of U.S. troops from Iraq. Thousands started to gather in the early hours of Friday in Jadiriyah district, east of Baghdad. The demonstrators held Iraqi flags and chanted slogans against U.S. troops.

Iraqi security forces were deployed in the areas around the Green zone of Baghdad. The U.S. embassy also took additional security measures and hanged banners warning them from approaching their premises.

In earlier protests in December, protesters managed to set fire to two gates of the U.S. embassy. Following this incident, the U.S. assassinated Iranian elite Quds Forces commander Qasim Soleimani in a drone attack.

The situation then escalated after the Iranians bombed a U.S. military base in Iraq.The Iraqi parliament on Jan. 5 voted on a motion demanding the departure of foreign troops from the country.

Around 5,000 U.S. soldiers are deployed in different military bases across Iraq.

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