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Iraq PM attends mourning for commanders killed in US strike


A handout picture released by Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force on January 4, 2020, shows Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi (C-R) arriving for the funeral of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad’s district of al-Jadriya, in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone. Thousands of Iraqis chanting “Death to America” joined the funeral procession for Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, both killed in a US air strike. The cortege set off around Kadhimiya, a Shiite pilgrimage district of Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic district where a state funeral was to be held attended by top dignitaries. In all, 10 people — five Iraqis and five Iranians — were killed in Friday morning’s US strike on their motorcade just outside Baghdad airport. Hashed al-Shaabi Media / AFP

Iraq’s prime minister attended a mourning procession in Baghdad on Saturday for Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed in a US strike the previous day.

Adel Abdel Mahdi joined Muhandis associate Hadi al-Ameri, Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, former premier Nuri al-Maliki and other pro-Iran figures in a large crowd.

The coffins were first brought to a revered Shiite shrine in Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district, where thousands of mourners chanted “Death to America.”

The crowds then accompanied them south to a point near the Green Zone, home to government offices and foreign embassies, including America’s.

The dignitaries then accompanied the coffins into the Green Zone for an official ceremony.

Soleimani and Mohandis were killed along with eight others in a precision drone strike early Friday as they drove away from Baghdad international airport in two vehicles.

Soleimani was the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm while Muhandis was the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network.

Their deaths sparked fears of a looming proxy war between Iran and the United States on Iraqi soil, further fanned by a new strike on pro-Iran factions on Saturday.

The Hashed, many of whose factions have close ties to Iran, said a strike had targeted one of their convoys.

State television said the attack was American. But the US-led coalition in Iraq said it was not involved.

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