According to Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, over 17 million pilgrims are in Karbala and more are arriving.
He said in a press conference on Thursday that 13 million of the pilgrims are Iraqis and the rest have come from other countries, al-Sumaria news reported.
Al-Obeidi was in Karbala to inspect the security measures in place for protecting the mourners agianst terrorist attacks.
Arbaeen, which falls on December 13 this year, marks 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the third Shia Imam.
Imam Hussein (AS) and 72 of his loyal companions, including family members, were martyred on the day of Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram, in the battle of Karbala against the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, in 680 A.D. Imam Hussein (AS) was martyred after he refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler.