Thousands of Iraqis demonstrate supporting security pact with US
More than 5,000 Iraqis demonstrated in the Iraqi city of Hillah on Wednesday to support the security agreement between the United States and Iraq that would require US troops to withdraw from the country, reported dpa.
The deal sets the legal basis for the future presence of US troops in Iraq after a United Nations Security Council mandate expires at the end of the year.
Under the agreement, the deadline for the complete withdrawal of US troops is December 31, 2011. More than 140,000 US troops are currently stationed in Iraq.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker signed the deal in Baghdad on Monday. However, it still needs parliamentary approval before it can be signed by the US and Iraqi presidents.
The demonstration in support of the security pact broke out in the centre of Hillah, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad. Clan chiefs and students were among the demonstrators, witnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The demonstrators carried flags and signs that said "Together for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq" and "With heart, with blood, we save you, Iraq." They also chanted slogans that urged the Iraqi government to sign the security agreement with the US.
Hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers surrounded the demonstrators who walked to the city council.