Protesters in Iraq surround U.S. embassy for a second day

Donald Trump. File photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Jan. 1 (UPI) — For a second day, protestors in Iraq swarmed the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

In an attempt to disperse the few hundred protestors gathered outside the compound, U.S. troops fired tear gas. Leaders eventually called off the demonstration, and by mid afternoon, all but 200 protestors had left.

According to the New York Times, none of the protestors got inside the embassy compound.

The protests began on Tuesday, when thousands gathered to demonstrate against U.S. airstrikes against the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, one of several mostly Shiite militias backed by Iran. The protestors scaled compound walls and buildings. Many of them remained overnight, camping outside the compound walls.

It’s not clear whether the protestors were militiamen, their supporters or some combination of the two. Videos of Tuesday’s demonstration posted to social media showed showed protesters hurling rocks and breaking the windows of embassy buildings.

A U.S. official told CNN that military officials sent a pair of Apache helicopters to fire flares and fly over the embassy in a show of force. The U.S. also sent 100 Marines from Kuwait to shore up security at the embassy compound.

According to CNN, at least 750 U.S. soldiers are being deployed to the Middle East in the wake of the attacks and escalating tensions between Iran and the U.S. The troops are likely to be sent to neighboring countries, instead of Iraq.

Last week, a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk, Iraq, killed an American contractor and wounded several military personnel. The U.S. blamed Kata’ib Hezbollah for the attack, and over the weekend, launched airstrikes against five sites controlled by the militia, in western Iraq and eastern Syria killed. The airstrikes killed at least 25 people and wounded 51.

On Monday, both Iraqi and Iranian officials criticized the military action taken by the U.S.

Iraqi President Barham Salih called the U.S. airstrikes “unacceptable” and regarded them as “an aggressive action and violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

On Twitter, President Trump condemned last week’s attack and blamed Iran for the demonstrations in Baghdad.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted. “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!”


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