A large group of violent protesters — including at least some who were reported to be wearing the uniform of an Iran-backed militia that was recently targeted by U.S. airstrikes — have surrounded the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in what many reports are calling a "siege" against the embassy compound.
Although there have not yet been any deaths or serious injuries reported, numerous reports indicated that fire and smoke were seen rising from the embassy compound.
The attack was the latest in a series of events that began when the Iranian-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah killed an American contractor in Iraq last week with a rocket attack on a U.S. military base. The United States responded with a series of "precision defensive strikes" on Kataeb Hezbollah assets, according to Fox News. Those strikes killed at least two dozen Kataeb Hezbollah fighters, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
In response, several hundred angry protesters — many of whom were seen wearing Kataeb Hezbollah uniforms — stormed the U.S. Embassy and even breached one security entrance that was used by cars. The Washington Post reports that Iraqi security forces intervened, forcing the surging crowd back outside the compound and erecting a steel barrier where the breach initially occurred.
Undeterred, the protesters continued to throw objects — including molotov cocktails — onto the embassy grounds, leading security forces to respond by firing tear gas into the crowd and ordering them to disperse. Other local reports indicated that U.S. troops were seen on the roof of the embassy pointing their guns at the crowd of insurgent protesters, and that at one point gunfire was heard, although no one appears to have been shot at the time of writing this article.
President Donald Trump responded forcefully to the attack on Twitter, blaming the Iranian government for orchestrating the protests and putting the Iraqi government on notice that he expects the U.S. Embassy grounds to be adequately protected.
Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestratin… https://t.co/XneYOcESC8— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1577793767.0