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Iraq deploys Special Forces to secure Pope's upcoming visit

Pope Francis celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on December 24, 2020 in Vatican City, Vatican [Vatican Pool/Getty Images]
Pope Francis celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on December 24, 2020 in Vatican City, Vatican [Vatican Pool/Getty Images]

An Iraqi security source on Wednesday reported the deployment of Special Forces in the governorates of Baghdad and Dhi Qar to enhance security ahead of the visit of Pope Francis.

The Pope is expected to conduct an official visit to Iraq that will start on Friday and continue until 8 March, during which he will meet the country's highest religious authority Ali Al-Sistani and visit the ancient city of Ur, disclosed Iraqi Minister of Culture Hassan Nadhem at a press conference on Monday.

A lieutenant colonel at the Ministry of Interior told Anadolu Agency: "Forces affiliated with the presidency of government and units of the Special Forces in charge of protecting the Green Zone have been deployed along the road between the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport to secure the visit of the Pope."

The Pope's itinerary includes a visit to the ancient city of Ur, the Sumerian state's capital and the Prophet Abraham's birthplace.

READ: Five injured in Baghdad protest ahead of Pope visit to Iraq

The city also includes the ancient Ziggurat (temples of the gods) and the Temple of Inanna, goddess of the moon, as mentioned in Sumerian mythology.

The deployment of the Special Forces in Dhi Qar comes at a time when the governorate is witnessing a state of cautious calm after days of clashes between protesters and security forces.

On Saturday evening, a committee formed by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi arrived in Dhi Qar to investigate incidents of violence in the city of Nasiriyah over the past six days. The clashes resulted in the deaths of five protesters and the injuries of 287 others, including 147 security officers, according to the Human Rights Commission in Iraq.

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