Speaking at a TV talk show on Saturday night, Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari said figures show that the number of Iranian travelers going to Iraq to pay tribute to Imam Hussein (PBUH) during this year’s Arbaeen season has increased by 80 percent in comparison to the corresponding period last year.
Earlier in the day, Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Alireza Rashidian had dismissed concerns over the security of Arbaeen pilgrims in the wake of recent unrest in a number of Iraqi cities, saying Iranians are travelling to the Arab country without any problem as Iraq has ensured full security along the routes to Karbala.
According to the official, more than two million Iranians have applied to travel to Iraq for Arbaeen as of Saturday.
Last week, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said the number of Iranian pilgrims visiting Iraq for Arbaeen was expected to reach three million.
Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.
Every year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH) is located, to perform mourning rites.