Iraqi cleric demands US embassy shut after Gaza fatalities

In a fiery statement on Tuesday, influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr called for the closure of the US embassy in Baghdad.

This demand follows a devastating Israeli strike that killed dozens of civilians in a Gaza camp. Sadr’s call comes amid heightened tensions and escalating violence in the region.

Health officials in Gaza reported that the Sunday night strike in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, resulted in the deaths of at least 45 people.

The strike targeted a displaced persons’ camp, further intensifying the controversy surrounding Israel’s offensive launched earlier this month. Sadr condemned the strike and Washington’s support, accusing the US of endorsing what he termed a “genocide” in Gaza.

In his statement on X, Sadr reiterated his demand to expel the US ambassador and close the embassy through diplomatic means.

He argued that such measures would serve as a more effective deterrent than violence and prevent the US from destabilizing Iraq.

Sadr, who once led a militia against US-led forces post the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, continues to wield significant influence in Iraqi politics.

The Iraqi foreign ministry also condemned the Israeli actions in Gaza, describing them as “criminal acts” and called for the international community to impose sanctions on Israel.

The Israeli strike has drawn widespread international condemnation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled the incident a “tragic accident” but committed to continuing the military campaign against Hamas.

The conflict in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, has resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official figures.

In response, Israel’s offensive has claimed the lives of at least 36,050 people in Gaza, predominantly civilians, as reported by the territory’s health ministry.

Iraq, alongside its neighbor Iran, remains steadfast in its support for the Palestinian cause and does not recognize the state of Israel.

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