In Baghdad, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people walked in a funeral procession for the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis. The two leaders were killed on Friday in an American drone attack.

The drone attack at the airport in Baghdad is seen as a potentially dangerous escalation in the “shadow war” between Iran and the United States in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he wanted to “prevent a war, not start a war” with the action.

Soleimani was Iran’s foremost military leader and the brain behind the country’s growing influence in the Middle East. Al Muhandis was the second man of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella Iraqi militia group.

Iraqi interim prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, among others, attended part of the funeral procession organized by the PMF.

The funeral procession began on Saturday at the heavily secured Green Zone in Baghdad, where many diplomats and expats live. At the end of the route, the bodies are transferred to the holy Shiite city of Najaf, where militia leader Al Muhandis and six other victims of the attack are buried.

Soleimani is then flown to Tehran, where his official funeral takes place.

The sorrow of Soleimani’s death is probably not shared by all Iranians. The general played an important role in the extremely violent crushing of anti-government protests in November, in which fifteen hundred Iranians died. His Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) shot at protesters.

Also in Iraq, including Baghdad, celebrations took place in some places after the news of Soleimani’s death. In recent months, the country has been under the spell of demonstrations, against the growing Iranian influence in the country.

Iranians gather in Amsterdam on Saturday at 3 p.m. to celebrate the death of Soleimani. They want the idea that Soleimani – according to the organization a man who has “many mass murders to his name” – is seen by Iranians as a “national hero.”

In the meantime, the PMF reports that six people died in an attack on a medical convoy near the Iraqi camp Taji. Three others are said to have been injured.

Both the US and the Iraqi army later reported that they had not carried out this attack. The Iraqi army stated that the attack had not taken place.

After the death of Soleimani, there was heavy speculation about how and whether Iraq would hit back. The Iranian ambassador for the United Nations responded to the attack on Friday by saying that the US has “started a military war with an act of terrorism.” Experts warn of reprisals such as cyber attacks or attacks on American interests and allies in the Middle East, possibly by Iranian-related militias.

As a precaution, the US government has advised its citizens to leave Iraq. Dutch people have also been warned by the Dutch embassy in Baghdad to leave the city.

NATO has temporarily suspended all training activities in Iraq for security reasons, a spokesperson said on Saturday. “The NATO mission continues, but the training activities are temporarily suspended,” the spokesman said.

About the author: Louise Roth

Louise Roth is the youngest member of WeeklyNewsReview team. Despite the young age Louise is interested in serious topics. Her main interests and education is all about economics and politics. But in our team she is the most productive do-it-all member, so she has to write on a variety of topics.

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