Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad on Sunday to commemorate the death of Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Iranian officials vowed revenge against the United States on the one-year anniversary of his death, but the day came and went without any major escalations.
Protesters gathered in the center of the Iraqi capital and chanted anti-American slogans. Some of the demonstrators were supporters of Iran-backed militias within Iraqâ€™s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), The Associated Press reported.
Soleimani led Iranâ€™s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. On Jan. 3, 2020, the US military assassinated Soleimani via drone strike while he was in a vehicle at Baghdad International Airport. PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the strike. Iran struck US military positions in Iraq days later in retaliation.
Iranian officials hinted that there would be more revenge on the anniversary of the killing. In September, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that avenging the death â€œis not closed.â€ In December, Iran’s Supreme LeaderÂ Ayatollah Ali KhameneiÂ said there would be â€œdefiniteâ€ revenge.
In anticipation of a possible Iranian attack, the US military ordered the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to remain in the Middle East on Sunday.
Protesters burned American flags and chanted â€œNo, no to America,â€ according to The AP. Some also stormed the airport where Soleimani was killed, Iranian state media reported.
Tensions between the United States and Iran are at a high as US President Donald Trump completes his final days in office. President-elect Joe Biden has stated a desire to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.