BAGHDAD — Tens of thousands of militiamen and supporters of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched in Baghdad yesterday in a dramatic show of strength, saying to both the US and Iraqi governments: If American troops stay past Dec. 31, there will be violence.
“I am asking for the withdrawal of the occupation,’’ said one of the marchers, Hussein Abu Lika, 42. “I am ready to fight from this moment. . . . I am ready for death.’’
Under an agreement between Washington and Baghdad, the 46,000 troops still in Iraq must leave by the end of this year. But Iraq’s widespread instability and still-struggling security forces have led US and Iraqi leaders to reconsider the deadline for the sake of the country’s security.
Also yesterday, a Bagdad military spokesman said gunmen killed Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, head of a committee tasked with investigating people for ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime.