Moqtada Sadr Renews Calls For US Embassy Closure in Baghdad After Rafah Strike

Tue May 28 2024
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BAGHDAD, Iraq: Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has reiterated his demand to close the US embassy in Baghdad following an Israeli airstrike that killed dozens of civilians in a Gaza refugee camp. On Tuesday, Sadr condemned the strike, which health officials in Gaza reported killed at least 45 people in a displaced persons’ camp in Rafah. This city in southern Gaza has been the focal point of Israel’s controversial offensive launched earlier this month.

Sadr criticized the Israeli attack and denounced Washington’s “shameless” support for what he termed the ongoing “genocide” in Gaza. In a statement on X, Sadr called for the expulsion of the US ambassador and the closure of the embassy through diplomatic means, emphasizing that such actions would serve as a more effective deterrent than the use of force. He argued that this would prevent US officials from having an excuse to destabilize Iraq.

Moqtada Sadr, who once led a militia against US-led forces following the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, continues to wield significant influence over Iraqi politics and maintains a large following among the country’s Shiite Muslim majority.

The Iraqi foreign ministry also condemned the “criminal acts” committed by Israeli forces in Gaza and urged the international community to take “deterrent” actions, including imposing sanctions on Israel.

The Israeli airstrike has sparked widespread international condemnation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident as a “tragic accident” but pledged to continue the military campaign aimed at dismantling Hamas.

The conflict in Gaza began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of around 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. In response, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,050 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Iraq’s all political parties support the Palestinian cause. Similar to its neighbor Iran, Iraq does not recognize the state of Israel.

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