Anti-U.S. Protests Break Out After Qassem Soleimani Assassination
Thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran, the capital of Iran, on Friday to protest against the United States, after President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a senior Iranian commander who headed up the country’s elite military forces abroad.
Trump’s decision to assassinate Soleimani significantly escalated tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have grown precipitously during his presidency. The president ended American participation in a global agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and began a campaign of “maximum pressure” against the country. Iran and its allies have responded with attacks against the U.S. and its partners, including a rocket strike that killed an American contractor at the end of December.
After Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a warning that “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. and that Soleimani was the “international face of resistance.”
The State Department has implored American citizens to leave Iraq immediately and to not approach the embassy in Baghdad. Embassies in Bahrain, Kuwait and Pakistan issued security alerts after the airstrike, noting that Americans in those countries should “avoid crowds” and “keep a low profile.”
Soleimani was a popular, almost heroic figure among conservative Iranians and other critics of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia. But many in the region suffered because of Iranian interventions abroad that Soleimani directed, including Iran’s support for Syrian president Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.
As Khamenei declared three days of public mourning in Iran for Soleimani’s death, demonstrators marched in the streets in Tehran:
Many in Western Asia also protested against the assassination. Below are scenes from Islamabad; Lahore, Pakistan; and Kashmir:
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