Millions heading to Karbala to mark Arba’een

November 29, 2015 - 0:0

Millions of Shia Muslims from across the world are taking part in a march toward the holy shrine city of Karbala to attend mourning rituals on Arba’een, which marks 40 days after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

During the processions, pilgrims show their commitment to the Shia imam by walking tens of miles barefoot. Mourners, clad in black, walk toward Karbala, which lies 80 kilometers south of the capital Baghdad.

Arba’een, which in Arabic means forty, falls on December 3 this year.

Last year, Iraqi officials announced that the number of pilgrims attending Arba’een reached 17.5 million in Karbala. The number of Arba’een pilgrims reportedly hit 20 million in 2013, Press TV reported.

--------- Nearly 1.5 million Iranians enter Iraq for Arba’een Day

About 1.5 million Iranian pilgrims entered Iraq through three border points until late Friday.

An Iraqi source told IRNA that the entrance of the Iranians to Iraq, which started on November 11, has accelerated since Saturday.

Iranian officials have estimated that 2.5 million Iranian pilgrims would travel to Iraq for Arba’een, according to IRNA.

-------- Arba’een terrorist attack thwarted

Iraqi security forces announced that they had arrested a number of terrorists who had planned to attack Arba’een pilgrims, Iraqi news sources reported, IRNA said.

“Two of the terrorists who were seeking to attack the pilgrims in al-Dorh district in southern Baghdad were arrested on Friday,” said operation commander Brigadier General Saad Maan.

One of the arrested terrorists was carrying a bomb, Maan said, adding that the arrests were made based on accurate information received by security forces.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman also said that four other wanted terrorists were detained south of Baghdad in the al-Karghool neighborhood.

He said that the terrorists had planned attacks on Iraqi citizens.

Massive security measures are in place in Baghdad entrances and other parts of the country.

------- Commander highlights IRGC’s full control over borders ahead of Arba’een

Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami made assurances on Saturday that the IRGC forces have full control over border areas, Tasnim reported.

“Today, with the grace of God, the IRGC has full control over border areas,” Salami said during a visit to the Mehran border crossing in the western province of Ilam.

He emphasized that the forces will try their hardest to ensure the security of the pilgrims during their journey to Iraq. The commander also said the IRGC has set up a camp with a capacity of 6,000 people and a field hospital in the Mehran border crossing.

------ Iran’s Army deploying drones to ensure security of pilgrims--

The commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force also said on Saturday that his forces are keeping a close watch on suspicious activities even beyond the country’s borders and that they are deploying drones to ensure the security of pilgrims.

“Our borders are fully secure and anti-security movements will be nipped in the bud by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said during a visit to the Mehran border crossing.

With the cooperation of the IRGC, the Iranian Army and the Law Enforcement Forces, the country’s borders are fully secure, the commander noted.

“The Army guarantees the security of pilgrims using drones and air patrols.”

------- Iran’s police using aerial vehicles

An Iranian police commander said a range of aerial vehicles are flown over border crossings with Iraq to ensure security of the pilgrims.

Speaking to Tasnim on Saturday, Lieutenant Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Special Forces Habibollah Jannesari said police units have been employing drones, balloons, gyroplanes and helicopters to monitor the situation.

The commander also highlighted the police’s close watch on the traffic of people at the borders with Iraq, including Mehran, Chazzabeh and Shalamcheh border crossings.

Last week, Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base, also gave an assurance that the country is closely monitoring its airspace over the western region and beyond to ensure security of the pilgrims.