İrem UZUN -TDO- As tensions with Iran rise up during the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad's central square on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general. Chanting anti-American slogans, some demanded revenge for the deaths of General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were killed by a U.S. drone strike on January 3, 2020. They also carried banners with slogans demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Qassem Soleimani had become Iran's most recognisable battlefield commander by the time of his death, seen as a figure of national resilience in the face of U.S. pressure. Little known until the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he took control of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, responsible for the Islamic Republic’s foreign campaigns. President Trump said the Iranian general was killed "to stop a war" but denied that the U.S. wanted a "regime change" in Tehran. "His reign of terror is over", Trump announced, saying the Iranian commander was "plotting to kill many more" Americans "but got caught."
On Friday, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami, said Iran was fully prepared to respond to any U.S. military pressure. "We will give our final words to our enemies on the battlefield," he said at a ceremony at Tehran University to mark the anniversary.