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Huge rally as Iraqis demand US troops pull out

Huge crowds have taken to the streets of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, to demand that US forces leave Iraq.

Powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr earlier called for a million people to join Friday’s march, close to the US embassy in the capital.

Many carried Iraq’s national flags as well as placards denouncing the US military presence in Iraq.

Some were wearing white robes, symbolizing their readiness to die for a religious cause, while others were pictured holding signs that read: “To the families of American soldiers – insist on the withdrawal of [your] sons from our country or prepare their coffins!”

“Get out, get out, occupier!” protesters shouted, while others chanted, “Yes to sovereignty!”

Security forces have cordoned off main roads in the capital, and the city’s Green Zone – home to foreign embassies and government premises – was barricaded with concrete barriers.

Aside from triggering a flare-up of military tensions and a retaliatory Iranian strike on US bases in Iraq, the killing sparked outrage among those Iraqis who see the 16-year American troop presence in their country as an unlawful occupation.

Official Baghdad, for its part, blamed Washington for breaching its sovereignty, with the lawmakers of the Islamic republic having passed a non-binding resolution calling on the government to expel all foreign troops from the country.

Some 5,000 US soldiers are in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group.