Protesters ‘break into’ US embassy compound in Baghdad, as crowds rally against American airstrikes in Iraq (PHOTO, VIDEO)
Dozens of Iraqi protesters furious over airstrikes that targeted Hezbollah positions have forced their way into the US embassy compound in Baghdad. Tear gas and sounds of gunfire were reported at the scene.
The crowd was able to gain access to sections of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, smashing doors and security cameras on the wall surrounding the diplomatic building, according to the Associated Press. The agency said that there was a fire in one part of the compound, and that at least three US soldiers were spotted on the roof of the embassy.
Plumes of dark smoke could be seen rising from the compound, as protesters waved Hezbollah flags and chanted “Down, down USA!”, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
#Breaking: Just in - Reports that #Hezbollah supporters are burning the back wall outside the #US embassy in #Baghdad's green zone in #Iraq, and are willing to storm inside the building to destroy everything inside. pic.twitter.com/LbFpURqTjX— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) December 31, 2019
Intense situation in front of the US embassy, #Baghdadpic.twitter.com/qvlRF92HeN— Aleph 🕯️ א (@no_itsmyturn) December 31, 2019
Security guards stationed inside the diplomatic mission threw stun grenades at protesters outside the compound gate, witnesses told Reuters.
One video purportedly shows US soldiers huddled behind the embassy's reception desk, as protesters film them from the window.
#BREAKING: United States military stationed inside embassy reception as demonstrations against U.S. are ongoing in #Baghdad, Iraq. pic.twitter.com/BAyGqZ8vC3— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) December 31, 2019
Another clip shows security personnel, wearing helmets and backpacks, gathered in the reception area as protesters shout at them through the window.
Kataib Hizbulla militia and PMF protesters and U.S embassy guards are separated by a glass barrier pic.twitter.com/JJyUR7ySee— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) December 31, 2019
Despite the chaos outside, the State Department said that the embassy itself has not been breached, and that all personnel inside are safe. The department added that there are no plans to evacuate the facility.
Protesters dispersed after setting fire to a security checkpoint at the entrance of the embassy compound, Reuters reported.Also on rt.com US envoy reportedly evacuated as Baghdad protesters attempt to storm embassy amid fury over air strikes (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
The unrest comes after the US military attacked Kataib Hezbollah targets in Qaim, Iraq, and two in Syria. At least 25 fighters were killed in the strikes, the Iran-allied Shitte militia has claimed. The Pentagon blames the group for attacks on coalition forces stationed in Iraq.
The US strikes were strongly condemned by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Tehran described the attacks as a form of “terrorism,” and denied any involvement in targeting US troops in Iraq.
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