Thursday May 26, 201107:03 AM GMT
Iraqis protest prolonged US military stay
Thu May 26, 2011 7:4AM
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Iraqi demonstrators have gathered in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to protest against the US attempts to prolong its military presence in the Middle Eastern country beyond the 2011 deadline.

More than 20,000 people assembled in Sadr City, a suburb of the Iraqi capital, to send a warning message to the US government that Washington is likely to suffer the consequences of extending its presence in their war-torn country, a Press TV correspondent reported early Thursday.

The leader of Iraq's Sadr Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, was among the officials who attended the demonstration to show unity with the people of Iraq.

In April, al-Sadr warned of an “escalation of military resistance” in Iraq if the US forces do not leave by the appointed deadline.

Earlier on Friday, Dhiya al-Showki, the head of the social committee of the movement, urged the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to follow through on a three-year-old US-Iraqi agreement that calls for all American forces to leave the country by December 31, 2011.

The United States is mandated to withdraw its forces from war-wrecked Iraq by the end of the year in line with the 2008 US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Based on the agreement, Washington had to end its combat operations in Iraq in August 2010.

Despite claims by the United States that it no longer engages in combat actions in Iraq, there have been numerous reports of involvement of the US troops in military operations in the Middle Eastern country.

Washington and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction stockpiled by the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

However, the invasion proved to have been based on false assumptions, and the war brought widespread violence, high civilian casualties, and destruction for the Iraqi people.

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