'Death to America': Thousands Storm US Embassy in Baghdad

Published December 31st, 2019 - 09:42 GMT
Protesters set fire to the outside walls of the US Embassy in Baghdad (Twitter)
Protesters set fire to the outside walls of the US Embassy in Baghdad (Twitter)
Highlights
It called the attack a 'flagrant violation' of its sovereignty. 

Several thousand protesters have stormed the US embassy in Baghdad, chanting 'death to America' after air strikes on Hezbollah that killed 25. 

Mourners held funerals for the fighters of the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah before rushing through the heavily fortified Green Zone, burning US flags as they headed towards the consulate. 

They pulled security cameras off the wall, yelling 'Down, down USA,' as Iraqi security forces tried to keep them back.

US fighter jets decimated three locations in Iraq on Sunday night, in retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack in the region. 

The US attack - the largest targeting an Iraqi state-sanctioned militia 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. 

Security guards were seen retreating inside the embassy as protesters hurled water bottles and smashed security cameras outside the buildings. 

Protesters also hung yellow flags belonging to the Kataeb Hezbollah militia backed by Iran on the walls of the embassy.     

Reporters said they then saw the masses trying to storm the embassy, shouting 'Down, down USA!' and 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel.'

Security guards were seen retreating to the inside of the embassy. Protesters also were seen hanging yellow flags belonging to the Kataeb Hezbollah militia backed by Iran on the walls of the embassy. 

On Sunday night, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the strikes send the message that the U.S. will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

The Iranian-backed Iraqi militia had vowed Monday to retaliate for the U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 of its fighters and wounded dozens.

The attack and vows for revenge raised concerns of new attacks that could threaten American interests in the region.

The U.S. attack outraged both the militias and the Iraqi government which said it will reconsider its relationship with the U.S.-led coalition - the first time it has said it will do so since an agreement was struck to keep some U.S. troops in the country.

It called the attack a 'flagrant violation' of its sovereignty. 

In a partly televised meeting Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Cabinet members that he had tried to stop the U.S. operation 'but there was insistence' from American officials.

The U.S. military said 'precision defensive strikes' were conducted against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq and Syria.

The group, which is a separate force from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Many of them are supported by Iran. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.    


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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