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US embassy in Baghdad attacked by Iraqi protesters shouting 'down USA'

2020/01/01 | 03:00

(Iraq Now News)-

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Iraqi protesters have stormed the US embassy in Baghdad, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area.

Dozens of Shia militia supporters swarmed the compound amid tear gas and sounds of gunfire, according to an Associated Press journalist at the scene.

Flames rose from inside the building and at least half a dozen US soldiers rushed up to the roof as protesters flooded in.

Donald Trump condemned the "orchestrated attack" in a Twitter post, calling on Iraqi authorities to "use [their] forces to protect the Embassy."

Iraq’s prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi responded by warning protesters to leave the area, stating any aggression against embassies or foreign representatives would be “punished by law.” 

The group entered the complex this morning after ramming an entrance gate and were last spotted metres away from the main building. 

As American soldiers pointed their guns at the intruders from the rooftop, tear gas smoke billowed across the area, sparking breathing issues for at least three of the protestors.

The assault came as hundreds of people protested outside the embassy over the deaths of 25 Iranian-backed Shia militia fighters in American air strikes.

The US military carried out the strikes on Sunday in retaliation against a rocket attack on an Iraqi military which killed an American contactor last week.

Protesters burn property in front of the US embassy compound (AP)

Shouting "Down, Down USA," the crowd tried to push inside the embassy grounds, hurling water and stones over its walls. 

They raised yellow militia flags while taunting the embassy‘s security staff who remained inside the gated compound, and sprayed graffiti on the walls and windows.

As tempers rose, the mob set fire to three trailers used by security guards along the embassy wall. 

There have so far been no reported injuries in the rampage, with security staff withdrawing inside the embassy soon after the throng gathered outside. 

Protesters and militia fighters gathered to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (REUTERS)

Seven armoured vehicles with about 30 Iraqi soldiers arrived at the embassy, hours after the violence erupted.

Four vehicles carrying riot police approached the embassy later but were forced back by the protesters who blocked their path. 

The embassy, Pentagon and US State Department are yet to provide official statements on the incident.

However, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo previously said Sunday‘s strikes showed the US would not tolerate any threat to  American lives by Iran.

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