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31 Dec, 2019 17:43

US sends reinforcements to its Baghdad embassy amid Iraqi protests over strikes

US sends reinforcements to its Baghdad embassy amid Iraqi protests over strikes

The US is sending more troops to its embassy in Baghdad, which was previously surrounded by protesters angry over airstrikes that Iraq called a breach of its sovereignty.

The American reinforcements had been summoned in line with “appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens” in Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday. The troops, he explained, were only “to ensure our right of self-defense.”

Video of several Apache helicopters shooting flares was posted to Twitter by the spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the military operation including, but not limited to fighting the terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

A Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command unit was deployed to Baghdad “to bolster security at the US Embassy and ensure the safety of American citizens” as part of the reinforcements, US Central Command tweeted.

Dozens of Iraqi protesters, angered by US airstrikes believed to have killed 25 Kataib Hezbollah fighters, descended on the Green Zone earlier in the day, smashing doors and cameras and breaching the heavily fortified perimeter. The embassy itself was not breached and would not be evacuated, a State Department spokesperson confirmed.

Esper called on the Iraqi government “to fulfill its international responsibilities” and “assist in the protection of our personnel in country.”  While Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi has condemned the protests, he has also slammed the US airstrikes, calling them a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

US President Donald Trump was quick to blame Iran for what he referred to as “an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq,” warning that it “will be held fully responsible” despite no evidence linking the protesters to Tehran. The president had previously blamed a rocket attack on a coalition base near Kirkuk that killed one American contractor on Iran, also without apparent evidence.

Also on rt.com ‘This is your time’: Trump calls for Iraqis to rise up against Iran

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