Tens of thousands of Iraqis have marked the fall of Baghdad, seven years to the day after the 2003 US-led invasion, by chanting anti-American slogans.
Marchers called the anniversary a day of occupation not liberation.
Supporters of Shi’ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr turned out in massive numbers while Sunni marchers chanted ‘yes to unity’. Many believe it is time foreign troops and military contractors left Iraq.
“On April 9, Iraq witnessed an occupation not a liberation as some people believe,” said demonstrator Rabee al-Ubaidy. “It is not just an anniversary of the fall of the former regime but it is an anniversary of the occupation of Iraq by a number of foreign countries.”
Violence has fallen sharply since the height of the bloodshed in 2006 and 2007 but bomb attacks and assassinations continue to this day. So what have been the gains, seven years later?
Some political analysts, like Osama al-Saidee, are more upbeat.
“There were many positive results despite the consequences caused by American forces, most importantly, the establishment of a political process that has taken its first steps on the path of democracy,” he said.
“However, this does not detract from the challenges that face us, not only from the US forces but from al-Qaeda as well.”
The US still has almost 100,000 troops in Iraq, mainly stationed on bases away from the cities.
Washington is intent on total withdrawal by the end of 2011.