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Iraqi Protester On Iran-U.S. Tensions

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are playing out in Iraq at a time when thousands of Iraqis have been protesting against government corruption and Iran's influence there. We spoke to one of those protesters, Halah al Chilidi from Baghdad. She just - just to note, the phone line was bad. We asked her how she felt about Qassem Soleimani's killing.

HALAH AL CHILIDI: At the beginning, I was very happy because...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: At the beginning, I was very happy because many people died because of Iran and Qassem Soleimani. But at the same time, I love my country. I don't want my country to be a battlefield between Iran and the U.S.A.

FADEL: Seventeen years after Iraq was invaded by the United States, a fresh conflict is what Halah says Iraqis fear most.

AL CHILIDI: They don't want another war.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: They don't want another war. They don't want more killing. They don't want more violence. They want to live peacefully.

FADEL: Some Iraqi lawmakers are calling for a vote to kick out U.S. troops, which she fears could start a civil war. And at this moment, she also expects little from her own government.

AL CHILIDI: Our Iraqi Parliament...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Our Iraqi Parliament are thieves. They are bad. All they think about is their loyalty to other countries, whether Iran or another country.

FADEL: Halah has been protesting with her daughters for weeks despite the government's deadly crackdown. But she says those protests are even riskier now.

AL CHILIDI: It's very dangerous, more dangerous than before.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It's very dangerous, more dangerous than before. We don't know from where the hit will come, the Iranians or the militias. We don't know.

FADEL: And so Iraqis like Halah worry that they will pay the price for a war between a global superpower and a regional one. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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