Solemani killing, Card Sako: Do not turn Iraq into a battlefield
The Chaldean patriarch describes a people in "deep shock" due to the escalation of violence in the last few days. He calls for dialogue to avoid actions which could have "unimaginable consequences". After the funeral mortar rounds and rockets over the capital and north. Thousands at the funeral of the Iranian general, but a part of the Iraqis rejoice over death.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Iraqis are experiencing a state of "profound shock" and their fear is that the country will be "transformed into a battlefield". This is what the Chaldean primate, Card. Louis Raphael Sako, writes in a message published on the patriarchate website and sent for information to AsiaNews. The Iraqi Church also follows the escalation between Iran and the United States with attention and concern. The situation has precipitated in recent days with the killing in a raid with missiles and drones of the powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, chief of the Iranian Qods special forces. US President Donald Trump gave the order to attack, even the leaders of the Iraqi popular mobilization forces.
After yesterday's funeral in Baghdad and in the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Kerbala, today the body of Gen. Soleimani is being transferred to Iran; the great ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for three days of national mourning, which will end on January 7 with the funeral of the senior officer. In the evening, some mortars and rockets fell in Baghdad and north of the capital, where thousands of people had previously attended the funeral procession of Soleimani, singing "death to America". In other areas of the city, some protesters celebrated the death of the Iranian general. Meanwhile, the command of the Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq has ordered all the fighters of the country to remain at least a kilometer away from US bases and targets.
Faced with an escalation that risks leading to an open war, the Chaldean primate calls for a "reasonable dialogue" to "spare" Iraq and the region from "consequences of unimaginable scope". Here is the message from Patriarch Sako:
Iraqis are still in shock of what happened last week. They have fears of having Iraq turned to a battleground, rather than being a sovereignty homeland, capable of protecting its citizens and wealth.
In such critical and tense circumstances, it is wise to hold a round table meeting for all the parties concerned to have a reasonable and civilized dialogue that spares Iraq the unexpected consequences.
We implore the Almighty God to grant Iraq and the region a peaceful, stable, secure and “normal life” that we are longing for.
Several blasts shook the Baghdad area hours after a huge funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed by a US air strike on Thursday.
A projectile hit the Green Zone near the US embassy while several more were fired north of the Iraqi capital at Balad air base, which houses US forces.
Nobody was hurt in the attacks, Iraqi security sources say.
Saturday's funeral procession through Baghdad and Iraq's Shia Muslim holy cities precedes the return of his remains to Iran.
In another development, the group issued a warning to Iraqi security forces to "stay clear of American bases by a distance not less [than] 1,000m (0.6 miles) starting Sunday evening", al-Mayadeen TV reported.
No group said it had carried out the attacks. Pro-Iranian militants have been blamed for other recent rocket attacks on US interests in Iraq.
Waving Iraqi and militia flags and chanting "Death to America", mourners walked behind the coffins from Al Muthana Airport to the gate of the Green Zone on Saturday.
Some mourners carried portraits of Soleimani while others held portraits of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Later, the procession left for the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
Some Iraqis, conversely, celebrated in Baghdad's streets at the news of Soleimani's death. He was accused of orchestrating violent crackdowns on peaceful pro-democracy protests there in recent months.