Iraqis fear emergence of new battlefront between US, Iranian forces
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In the aftermath of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike on January 3, the people of Iraq are grappling with the threat of escalating violence. Our team of reporters visited Baghdad to speak to locals about the growing tensions in the region.
In the capital of Baghdad, many locals fear the opening of a new battleground between US and Iranian forces on their soil.
Amid one of the city's marketplaces where residents typically spend their time relaxing and browsing for books, the mood is palpable.
Bookseller Kareem Hanash is one of this market's oldest merchants. He has lived through three wars, embargos and years of terrorism.
“The situation is dangerous today,’ Hanash said. “ I hope that Iraq will avoid the conflict because these are political issues that are not the fault of the people here.”
At Tahrir square, a few streets away, thousands of Iraqis have been protesting since October against the country's political class and foreign intervention.
One such activist, Hassanin Abu Ali, has been coming to the square every day since the beginning of October. He thinks this latest crisis was the inevitable consequence of foreign intervention.
“This is exactly why we reject all foreign interference,” Hassanin said. “We don’t want Iraq to transform into a battlefield for the US and Iran."
Protesters continue to fear a backlash from armed Iraqi groups close to Tehran who are calling for revenge after Soleimani’s killing.
Since the death of Soleimani, the ‘green zone’, home to the US embassy, has been targeted by three rocket attacks. The attacks were never claimed but the US government has said armed groups within Iraq are responsible.
Click on the video player above to watch this special report from FRANCE 24's Lucile Wassermann and Sam Bradpiece.