Staff was evacuated from the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. That said, others remain inside within the compound as thousands of protestors and militia fighters storm the gates in anger at the United States airstrikes in Iraq, the Associated Press reports.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a statement saying, “We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy. “As in all countries, we rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country, and we call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its international responsibilities to do so,” Esper added. “The U.S. continues to support the Iraqi people and a free, sovereign and prosperous Iraq.”
A State Department spokesperson said in a statement “U.S. personnel are secure and there has been no breach.”
Reuters reports that outside the embassy protesters threw stones at the gate, while others changed No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!’. An AP reporter also reports flames rising from inside the compound with at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the central embassy building.
The embassy attack comes hours after several deadly airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 Kataeb Hezbollah fighters on the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, according to the Associated Press. The United States military said the airstrikes were in response to last week’s killing of an American contractor on an Iraqi military base. The attacks illustrate a major change in Iraq-America relations, which could weaken the United States’ influence in the region and also weaken Washington’s pressure on Iran.
President Donald 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!”
Trump later tweeted, “To those many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don’t want to be dominated and controlled by Iran, this is your time!”
This is an ongoing story. We will keep you updated with new details.