Gulf & Middle East
Iraqis rally in Shia cities for anti-US march
Apr 9, 2007 - 3:46:20 PM

Baghdad, April 9 - Thousands of Shia Muslims Monday held demonstrations against the US in the southern cities of Kufa and Najaf on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

Men, women and children holding flags and placards with anti-US slogans, gathered in Najaf City and nearby town of Kufa.

The road to the north between Baghdad and Najaf was packed with hundreds of vehicles crammed with protestors waving Iraqi flags and chanting religious and anti-US slogans.

'No, no, no to America,' and followed by 'Muqtada, yes, yes, yes' they chanted.

Iraqi flags were seen fluttering from rooftops, shops and vehicles in Baghdad's Shia bastion of Sadr City, while police escorted convoys of pickup trucks carrying youths waving flags.

Sunday, Sadr office issued a statement urging Iraqis to come out in full force Monday to mark the day when US forces took Baghdad in 2003.

'The faithful should participate in a demonstration in Najaf on April 9, demanding that the occupiers withdraw form our lands,' Shia radical leader Muqtada Sadr said in his statement. 'They should carry or wear Iraqi flags.'

The government announced a 24-hour vehicle ban, which took effect in Baghdad at 5 a.m. - Monday, Brigadier Qassim Moussawi, a US-Iraqi security operation spokesman, said.

'There will be protests marking the fourth anniversary. We don't want to give the terrorists a chance to use this opportunity,' he said.

Sadr is said to be in the neighbouring Iran, which is denied by his aides who say their leader is in Iraq and has not fled for fear of security crackdown.

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