The governor of Basra announced on Tuesday, January 7, that the remains of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis are scheduled to pass through the city on Tuesday, and will stop in every province on the way to his final resting place in Najaf, according to local sources. Consequently, the governor declared Tuesday to be a public holiday. Al-Muhandis's body was scheduled to arrive at Basra International Airport (BSR) at 08:00 (local time) on Tuesday. Large crowds of mourners gathering at BSR and later in Basra city may cause flight and localized traffic disruptions.
A heightened security presence, as well as transport and business disruptions are expected in Basra on Tuesday, and all along the funeral procession route until it arrives in Najaf.
Heightened tensions are to be expected in Iraq over the near term. Increased security measures are to be anticipated in Baghdad, including at Baghdad International Airport (BGW), over the coming days. Further attacks targeting US personnel and assets are also possible over the coming days.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3, claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) during the early morning hours of Friday. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals in Basra or traveling via BSR, and in Iraq more generally, are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.