Thousands of faithful draped themselves in Iraqi flags and marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall.
The rally was called for by powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government.
A day earlier, the renegade cleric issued a statement ordering his militiamen to redouble their battle to oust American forces and argued that Iraq's army and police should join him in defeating "your archenemy."
On Monday, thousands of demonstrators marched from Kufa to neighboring Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, with two cordons of Iraqi police lining the route.
Some at the rally waved small Iraqi flags; others hoisted up a giant flag 10 meters (yards) long.
Leaflets fluttered through the breeze reading: "Yes, Yes to Iraq" and "Yes, Yes to Muqtada. Occupiers should leave Iraq."