Iraqis who have demonstrated for months against a government they see as beholden to Iran broke into song and dance Friday after a US strike killed a top Iranian commander, an AFP photographer said.
“Oh Qasem Soleimani, this is a divine victory,” they cheered in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of their movement.
“This is God’s revenge for the blood of those killed,” one added, after nearly 460 people were killed in violence that many demonstrators have blamed on Iran-backed security forces.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted a video on Twitter Thursday night of Iraqis “dancing in the street” after the US killed the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani.
“Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more,” Pompeo wrote, alongside footage of scores of people running along a road and waving what appeared to be Iraqi flags and other banners.
Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more. pic.twitter.com/huFcae3ap4
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2020
US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of the Iran Revolutionary Guards commander, who died Friday “in a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad,” the Pentagon said.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
“General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
Pompeo did not provide a source for the video or offer any details about where the images were filmed.
The strike at Baghdad’s international airport also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.
A pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction.
The US had called the strikes in response to a rocket attack days earlier that killed an American contractor working in Iraq.
The Pentagon said Soleimani had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past months, including on December 27, the day the contractor was killed.
“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” it said.