FALLUJAH, Iraq, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Iraqis rallied Wednesday in the central city of Fallujah, once the epicenter of anti-U.S. insurgency, celebrating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The demonstrators set U.S. and Israeli flags on fire and raised Iraqi flags along with banners saying "the people want occupation be removed," and "Fallujah is the flame of resistance and symbol of liberation."
"The people of Fallujah insist to make today's celebration a call on all Iraqis to consolidate the national unity and tolerance to build our homeland," Hameed al-Hashim, mayor of the city told Xinhua.
Fallujah once was one of the major redoubts of Iraqi resistance immediately after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. For weeks in April and November in 2004, Fallujah was under siege by U.S. troops. U.S. aircraft and artillery brutally bombarded the city, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing and wounding thousands of Iraqi people.
During the fierce battles between insurgents and the U.S. troops, dozens of bodies were buried in the city's soccer stadium after the U.S. forces blocked the roads leading to the city's cemetery.
Al-Hashim said that the city intends to build a monument for the martyrs who were killed in the battles and buried in the stadium.
The U.S. troops are fully pulling out from Iraq by the end of this year, according to the security pact named Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed late in 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.
Special Report: Situation in Iraq