Tension escalates in
BAGHDAD, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Iraqis rallied in
central Baghdad on Thursday to protest the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq six
years after the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime.
Thousands of Iraqis gathered at the Firdus Square
where the statue of Saddam Hussein brought down in April 9, 2003.
The rally was originally called upon by fire brand
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led two uprisings against U.S. troops in Iraq
since the invasion.
Iraqi security forces guarded the demonstrators,
blocking the traffic of all the roads that lead to the square, while hundreds of
Sadr followers are still pouring to the area.
The demonstrators raised posters of Sadr and banners
demanding the U.S. troops to leave Iraq, chanting slogans saying "NO, No,
America" and "No, No, Israel."
"Demonstrations are part of our rights to peacefully
express our rejection to occupation," Abdul Zahra Ali told Xinhua.
"We will continue protesting the occupation from time
to time until the remove of the occupation," Ali vowed.
Amer Baqir, 40, another demonstrator said that he has
a hope that the new U.S. president Barack Obama will fulfill his promise and
pullout his troops, but said "our demonstrations are to remind him that we
insist on removing occupation."
The demonstration comes as a wave of bombings hit the
Iraqi capital, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians and shaping a set
back to the efforts of the Iraqi government that aimed at stabilizing the