U.S. embassy in Baghdad attacked by protestors and evacuated
Some local staff were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, while others remained inside a safe room within the compound as thousands of protesters and militia fighters thronged the gates in fury at U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, the AP reports.
The scene, per Reuters: “Outside the embassy, protesters threw stones at the gate while others chanted, ‘No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!'”
An AP reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the main embassy building.
There was a fire at the reception area near the parking lot of the compound.
A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”
“Iraqi special forces were deployed around the main gate to prevent [protesters] entering the embassy,” Reuters added.
“A few hours into the protest, tear gas was fired in an attempt to disperse the crowd.”
Reuters reported that Ambassador Douglas Sillman had been evacuated from the embassy, citing Iraqi officials, but CNN reported that he was out of the country on a previously scheduled vacation, citing an embassy spokesperson.
The U.S. embassy wall is splattered with graffiti. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images
The context: The embassy attack follows deadly airstrikes Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah, per AP.
The U.S. military said the airstrikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it had blamed on the militia.
Why it matters: The developments represent a major downturn in Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S. influence in the region and also weaken Washington’s hand in its maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
President Trump tweeted: “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”
Editor’s note: This is a developing news story and will be updated with new details.