Calgary

'Trump is a killer': Iraqi Calgarians call for peace in wake of Soleimani assassination

Iraqi Calgarians say they are angry their home region could see itself engulfed in another major conflict, as tensions escalate following the U.S. assassination of a key Iranian military leader on Iraqi soil.

President Donald Trump ordered a targeted drone strike, killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil

Calgarians protested on Saturday, after a U.S. airstrike killed an Iranian military leader outside of Baghdad. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Iraqi Calgarians say they are angry their home region could see itself engulfed in yet another major conflict, as tensions escalate following the U.S. assassination of a key Iranian military leader on Iraqi soil.

Around 100 protesters chanted "Trump is a killer" and "stop aggression in Iraq" outside Calgary city hall early Saturday evening.

The U.S. Department of Defence confirmed President Donald Trump had ordered a targeted drone strike on a convoy near Baghdad's airport on Friday, killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and nine other passengers. 

The U.S. said Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force (the foreign arm of the Revolutionary Guards), was planning an imminent attack — but did not release evidence to back that statement.

"We felt America had gone too far. Not only are they interfering with Iraqi and regional politics, but they are directly assassinating and doing illegal airstrikes on our sovereign soil," said Zaineb Latif, one of the protest's organizers. 

Zaineb Latif has family back in Iraq. She said her relatives were shocked and panicked after the U.S. airstrike. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Soleimani has been credited for a number of military operations throughout the Middle East that have killed hundreds of U.S. troops, and the U.S. considers the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

In Iran, Soleimani was a highly regarded strategist who led the fight to push back against ISIS. Officials vowed to take revenge against the U.S. for the killing and declared a three-day public mourning period. Other allied groups like Hezbollah have also threatened to respond.

Trump said the U.S. will target Iranian cultural sites if the country retaliates. 

We don't want [Canada's] armed forces — they are our brothers and sisters there — we don't want them losing their lives for nothing.- Riyaz Khawaja, protestor

Riyaz Khawaja, another organizer of the protest, said he feels Trump doesn't care about peace in the region.

"It was a Trump-led invasion, I don't think it was a U.S.-led invasion," he said.

NATO has suspended Canadian-led training of Iraqi forces in the wake of the airstrike, and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada is monitoring the security environment and taking necessary precautions.

"We have troops in NATO in Iraq, we don't want the war [to] happen, we don't want the armed forces — they are our brothers and sisters there — we don't want them losing their lives for nothing. There is no reason for a war," Khawaja said.

Roughly 100 Calgarians met to protest the U.S. airstrike outside of city hall on Saturday. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Latif said while she'd like to see the Canadian government take a stand against the U.S., she sees that as unlikely and holds more hope that Canadian people will speak out.

"I hope for the Canadian people to understand that a fight for justice anywhere in the world … needs to be fought and it needs to be won because injustice, if it's not stopped, will spread," she said. 

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada has advised Canadians to avoid travel to Iraq, and leave the country if it is safe to do so.

With files from Terri Trembath

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