Dozens of Iran-backed protesters demonstrating against Sunday airstrikes targeting Kataib Hezbollah weapons depots stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad today, not breaching the interior but prompting the evacuation of the U.S. ambassador and embassy staff, according to Iraqi officials.
Iraqi officials said guards used tear gas and stun grenades to try to keep the mob from breaching the compound, wounding several of the militia members. Protesters chanting “Death to America” set a security post on fire and threw rocks at the embassy.
“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih separately by phone today from his office in Washington, D.C.,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. “The Secretary made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq. Both Abdul-Mahdi and Salih assured the Secretary that they took seriously their responsibility for and would guarantee the safety and security of U.S. personnel and property.”
In a brief security alert on its website, the Baghdad Embassy said, “The U.S. Embassy continues to advise U.S. citizens not to approach the Embassy. U.S. citizens should keep in touch with family members.”
President Trump said in a tweet that Iran would be held “fully responsible” for the embassy attack. “In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified,” he said.