Iraqis demand end to American occupation

April 10th, 2011 - 12:19 am ICT by BNO News  

BAGHDAD (BNO NEWS) — Tens of thousands of demonstrators on Saturday took to the streets of Baghad to mark the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and demand the departure of the American troops, Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported.

Protesters, mainly followers of the Shiite Sadrist Leader Muqtada al-Sadr, carried Iraqi flags and raised slogans condemning the U.S. forces presence in the country. The prominent cleric al-Sadr is one of the most vocal critics of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“The slogans of the demonstration are concentrating on the demands for the departure of the U.S. occupation forces from Iraq and a call on the Iraqi government to put an end for the foreign presence of those forces and the non-renewal of their existence in Iraq,” al-Sadr’s media spokesman told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Hazim al-Aaraji said during his reading of Sadr’s statement before the demonstrators that the leader has called for an open sit-in demonstration to force the American forces to leave Iraq by the end of this year.

Passenger buses coming from different southern Iraqi provinces were seen entering Baghdad carrying tens of thousands of demonstrators. A curfew on vehicles was imposed to prevent any movement around the venue of the demonstration.

The Mahdi Army, formed by al-Sadr in 2003, was involved in clashes with U.S. forces. It suspended its activities in 2007, bringing a significant decline in violence.

According to a security agreement between Baghdad and Washington, all U.S. forces will be withdrawn by the end of 2011. Less than 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq, eight years since since the U.S.-led war began March 20, 2003.

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