On February 11, an official public commemoration marking 40 days since the killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Units deputy commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was held in Baghdad's Green Zone. It was attended by several PMU commanders and Iraqi officials, who during it vowed to defend Iraq's sovereignty against enemies and to continue the journey of the two "martyrs."
Cardboard cutouts of Al-Muhandis, left, and Soleimani at the event (Source: Al-Arabyia.net)
"The major crime [the U.S. drone strike] committed near Baghdad airport against the leaders of victory is a crime against humanity, a crime against Iraq, a crime against our sovereignty and [against] the defense of our children and all that we cherish with it," said Falih Al-Fayadh, PMU head and Iraqi national security advisor in his speech at the event. "The blood of these martyrs, in my personal opinion, is a re-establishment of Hashd [PMU] ... God willing, we will be a thorn in the eye of those who want to rob Iraq of its sovereignty."
On display at the entrance to the hall where the event took place were photos showing Soleimani and Al-Muhandis on various occasions, along with photos showing U.S. soldiers arresting Iraqis; the latter bore captions such as "Occupiers have indeed fulfilled their promises."
Photos of U.S. soldiers arresting Iraqis (Source: Twitter.com)
Local media reported that the speakers at the event made no threats against U.S. forces, quoting from a February 9 tweet by Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq secretary-general Qais Al-Khalizi in which he wrote: "The military response to the U.S. airstrike is postponed."
President Trump hanged in effigy (Source: Azzaman.com)
U.S. soldiers hanged in effigy (Source: Al-Arabyia.net)
Prior to the event, members of the PMU group Hizbullah Brigades hanged U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. soldiers in effigy, at the entrance to Al-Sadr city in northeast Baghdad. Additionally, huge posters of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis were placed in Baghdad public squares.
Local reports also quoted an unnamed Hizbullah Brigades as acknowledging that group had carried out the hanging in effigy, adding that it was "part of the preparation to mark the 40 days since Soleimani's and Al-Muhandis' killing."
Earlier, Iraqi MP Hassan Salem, who represents Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, issued a statement accusing the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad of being behind calls by protesters to boycott schools and workplaces. He wrote: "Boycotting schools and work[places] is an extension project of ISIS. The security forces must carry out their duties and arrest them [i.e. the protesters,] under Article 4 [of the] terrorism law]." He added: "These deviant teams [i.e. the protestors] are receiving orders from the U.S. Embassy to carry out acts of sabotage and disrupt the educational institutions. They are far from peaceful demonstrations, and are supported and funded by funds from the Gulf, for example from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates."