The proxy war between the United States and Iran is getting more direct.
Hundreds of pro-Iranian demonstrators and uniformed militia members had the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad under siege on Tuesday after an American airstrike on Friday that killed 25 fighters in an Iranian-backed group, Fox News reported.
While no deaths or injuries had been reported, the attackers set fire to three trailers used by security guards along a wall of the embassy, Fox reported.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump blamed the attack squarely on the Islamic Republic.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” Trump wrote. “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
The “contractor” Trump wrote about referred to a fatality in Friday’s attack on a base housing American troops in Kirkuk, Iraq, The Washington Post reported.
In retaliation for that attack, the U.S. launched the airstrikes against the Iranian militia group Kataib Hezbollah near the Iraqi-Syrian border that left the 25 militia members dead.
That, in turn, led to Tuesday’s attack on the Baghdad embassy.
Protesters attempted to storm the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, scaling the walls and forcing the gates of the compound, as hundreds demonstrated against American airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq. https://t.co/NmlwtIKwkT pic.twitter.com/sKPIqcBYh9
— CNN (@CNN) December 31, 2019
Iraqi officials in Baghdad appeared to have done little to protect the American compound, the largest U.S. embassy in the world.
According to The Associated Press, Iraq Interior Minister Yassine al-Yasseri was outside the embassy on Tuesday and said his government had warned the U.S. against the Sunday airstrike.
“This is one of the implications,” he said, according to the AP. “This is a problem and is embarrassing to the government.”
It was unclear how long the situation might last.
According to the AP, al-Yasseri said more security forces would be put in place as a buffer between the protesters and the embassy but did not indicate the mob would be dispersed by force.
According to The Post, a spokesman for the militia group hit by Sunday’s airstrike said the group plans to remain outside the embassy “until it closes and all U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.”
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