Iraq has removed a billboard in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin that was reportedly erected by Iran-backed Shiite militia groups.
Upon orders from Baghdad’s Operations Command, security forces removed the huge billboard, which was a large portrait of Putin, on Thursday, hours after it was unfurled in downtown Baghdad.
On the bluish background of the billboard, there was the sentence "We Support Russia" with a large font with each word featured in one of the Russian flag's three colors. It bore the signature of "the president's friends" in Arabic.
It is unclear who ordered the sign, but it was installed in the Jadriya neighborhood near the headquarters of Iran-backed Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Shia militia group right next to banners of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds commander Qasem Soleimani.
The paramilitary group is designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department and is seen as a proxy for the IRGC.
The Russian embassy posted the photo on its official Twitter page, boasting in Russian, “On the streets of Baghdad”.
There is footage on social media showing armed soldiers ripping the portrait into pieces next to a few bystanders.
Both Iran and Iraq abstained from voting for a UN General Assembly resolution deploring the Russian invasion of Ukraine and urging the immediate withdrawal of the troops on Wednesday.