RNA - A large number of Iranian Shiite pilgrims flocked into Karbala, some 110 km South of Baghdad, to commemorate Ashoura day, Thursday, which marks the death of Imam Hossein (PBUH) who was killed and buried in Karbala in 680 AD.
Numbers of black-clad men, young men and children, waving green, black and red flags, and accompanied by drummers, marched through the streets of Karbala.
Some pilgrims beat their chests and heads in honor of Imam Hossein who was killed in the battle of Karbala in the seventh century (AD) and since then became a key moment in Shiite history and religion.
Thousands of Iraqi security troops manned dozens of checkpoints and patrols across Baghdad were deployed in and around the city of Karbala to protect the worshippers, according to security officials.
On the 10th of the month of Moharram, in the 61st year of the Islamic Calendar (680 ACE), in a barren land (which is now the city) of Karbala, some 100 kilometers Southwest of Baghdad, Imam Hossein (PBUH) - the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the third Imam of Shiite Islam - was savagely slaughtered in battle and rose to martyrdom.
The Battle of Karbala was the result of Imam Hossein (PBUH)'s attempt to liberate the people of the region from the tyrannical rule of the second caliph of the Ummayad Caliphate, Yazid I. Over the days preceding his martyrdom, Imam Hossein (PBUH) and his small caravan of friends and family (between 72 and 124 men) were surrounded by Yazid's army of thousands (over 30,000 armed men). They were ultimately forbidden access to water for three days, and on the tenth day (Ashoura), Yazid's army attacked in full force, killing all 72 of Imam Hossein (PBUH)'s closest companions, including his six-month old son. The final and most brutal casualty of Karbala was Imam Hossein (PBUH) himself, who sustained countless unimaginable wounds from arrows, stones and swords before his throat was cut while he was prostrating before the Lord in prayer. Thus, on that day, Imam Hossein (PBUH) rose as a martyr and has remained so for over a thousand years.
Imam Hossein was martyred after he flatly refused to give allegiance to the oppressive Umayyad caliph, Yazid.
His martyrdom took place on the tenth of the Muslim month of Muharram, known as Ashoura, in 680 AD.
He was martyred along with 72 of his loyal companions in the tragic massacre at Karbala.
Nearly 14 centuries later, millions of Muslims around the world commemorate the occasion every year.