The US condemned on Wednesday the brutal assassination of Iraqi academic Husham Al Hashimi and called on the government to bring his perpetrators to justice.
Mr Al Hashimi, who advised the government on security matters was gunned down by two unknown men in front of his house in Baghdad on Monday.
“Iraq tragically lost a patriot, prominent scholar and journalist, Husham Al Hashimi, who devoted his life to a free and sovereign Iraq and gave voice to the aspirations of the Iraqi people,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a press conference.
A peaceful protest was held on Tuesday evening in Baghdad's Tahrir square in honour of Mr Al Hashimi's life as Iraqis and international colleagues mourned his loss.
Protesters held signs reading "they assassinated the voice of truth with a fake bullet" and videos circulated on social media of TukTuk drivers beeping outside his home in a show of solidarity and support.
The killing has triggered fears that Iraq could enter a dark and violent new phase, as tensions worsen between pro-Iranian factions and the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi.
In the days leading up to the assassination, Mr Al Hashimi was repeatedly threatened by Iran-backed armed groups, Mr Pompeo said. He called on the government of Iraq to “bring to justice the perpetrators of this terrible crime and bring them swiftly to justice.”
The US embassy in Baghdad said in a Facebook post that it was "deeply shocked and saddened by the cowardly murder" and offered "deepest condolences to his family and to the people of Iraq for the tragic loss of this Iraqi national treasure."
Mr Al Hashimi’s killing has sparked widespread outrage. The UN, foreign governments and Iraqi leaders have all condemned his assassination and urged the prime minister to hold the culprits to account.