US embassy compound in Baghdad stormed by Protesters after US attacks on Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 fighters.
Dozens of protesters broke into the US embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire.
Witnesses reported rising from inside the compound and said they saw at least three US soldiers on the roof of the main building inside embassy.
It was not clear what caused the fire at the reception area near the parking lot.
A man on a loudspeaker urged the protesters not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”
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The US ambassador to Iraq and other staff were evacuated from the embassy.
Earlier, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the embassy to decry US air attacks in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 fighters from an Iran-backed Shia group.
Shouting “Down, Down USA!” the crowd hurled water bottles and smashed security cameras outside the embassy grounds.
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called on the protesters to leave the compound “immediately.”
“We recall that any aggression or harassment of foreign embassies will be firmly prohibited by the security forces,” Abdel Mahdi’s office said several hours after the attack began.
The US military carried out the strikes on Sunday against the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah.
Washington claimed it was acting in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it blamed on the group.
The protesters raised flags of the powerful paramilitary group Hashd al-Shaabi Popular Mobilization Forces, of which Kataib Hezbollah is part, and several people climbed over the wall of the embassy and chanted “death to America” and “no, no America”, witnesses said.
Tuesday’s attempted embassy storming took place after mourners held funerals for fighters killed in a Baghdad neighbourhood, after which they marched on to the heavily fortified Green Zone and kept walking until they reached the embassy.
Security guards were seen retreating to the inside of the embassy. Protesters were also seen hanging yellow flags belonging to the Kataib Hezbollah on the walls of the embassy.
The entire funeral procession, consisting mostly of PMF members and their followers, has entered through these gates without any resistance whatsoever from the Iraqi security forces that are supposed to guard the Green Zone.
The US raids the largest attack targeting an Iraqi state-sanctioned group in recent years and the calls for retaliation represent a new escalation in the proxy war between the US and Iran playing out in the Middle East.
The US military said “precision defensive strikes” were conducted against five sites belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, which is a separate force from the Lebanese group Hezbollah, in Iraq and Syria.
US embassy compound in Baghdad stormed by Protesters.