Supporters of anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia fought pitched battles with American forces, on Thursday officially celebrated the departure of the "occupiers" from Iraq.
The last American soldiers except for a small number under US embassy authority departed Iraq in mid-December, after almost nine years in the country. But the official Sadrist celebration was held on Thursday after the end of Arbaeen, the 40-day period of mourning following the Ashura commemorations, which mark the death in battle of Imam Hussein, a formative event in Shiite Islam.
Tens of thousands of people turned out for the event, which was held in Sadr City in northern Baghdad, an area named for Moqtada's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed along with two of Moqtada's brothers in 1999 by gunmen allegedly sent by dictator Saddam Hussein.
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