Media reports indicate that hundreds, potentially thousands, of mourners have gathered in Baghdad as of the morning (local time) on Saturday, January 4, amid funeral processions honoring both Qasem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The funeral procession began at 10:00 (local time) at the Imam Al-Kadhim and Imam Al-Jawad Shrine, with dignitaries and government officials in attendance. Mourners gathered at 10:00 as well, at the Entry Control Point (ECP) 5 of the International Zone at 10:00 (local time) and plan to march toward the Jadriyah neighborhood of Karada district. Violence and clashes in the coming hours cannot be ruled out. Suleimani's remains are to be sent to Iran later on Saturday for funeral processions in Tehran on Sunday, January 5.
Tensions will likely escalate in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, in the near term. Heightened security measures are anticipated throughout the capital, including at Baghdad International Airport (BGW), over the coming hours. Retaliatory attacks targeting US personnel and assets are also possible.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3, claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) during the early morning hours of Friday. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals in Baghdad, and Iraq more generally, are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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