April 10, 2011
Iraq’s fiery anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will “escalate military resistance” and unleash his Mehdi Army militia if U.S. troops fail to leave Iraq as scheduled this year, his aides said on Saturday.
On the 8th anniversary of the day U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad, senior Sadr aide Hazem al-Arajitold tens of thousands of followers: “We say to the Black House (White House), ‘we are all time bombs and the detonators are at the hands of Moqtada al-Sadr.’ American troops must definitely leave our lands.”
Men, women and children — many waving Iraq’s black, white and red flag or singing songs — gathered in Baghdad’s Mustansiriya square to mark the occasion. The mood was festive, and vendors milled around, selling ice cream, water and juice.
Some of the followers carried signs reading “Occupiers Out” and “No to America.” Others burned U.S., Israeli and British flags, or draped white funeral shrouds over their shoulders — signifying they were willing to die for their beliefs.
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