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1 Jan, 2020 14:45

Iraqi protesters withdraw from US Embassy in Baghdad (VIDEOS)

Paramilitary leaders have ordered their supporters to leave the heavily fortified US Embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq, as American troops reinforced the besieged facility.

Live footage from RT’s video agency Ruptly showed protesters with Hezbollah flags withdrawing en masse in their vehicles. Some lingered behind at the scene of the clashes, where tear gas and stun grenades were reportedly fired again on Wednesday. By Wednesday evening, however, the US military stated that all had departed.

Hordes of protesters descended on Baghdad’s American embassy – located inside the heavily fortified ‘Green Zone’ – on Tuesday. Incensed by Sunday’s US airstrikes against the Kataib Hezbollah militia, the crowd lit fires and pelted the embassy with stones. A contingent of US Marines arrived on Tuesday night to bolster security.

Kataib Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, allied with an umbrella group of similar militias known as the ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF), who are supposed to be under the command of the Iraqi military. The PMF on Wednesday told the crowds at the embassy to withdraw, claiming that their “message has been heard,” and to allow the Iraqi government to “preserve the prestige of the state.”

Also on rt.com US troops fire tear gas as protesters throw stones at embassy in Baghdad – reports

However, the call to pull back was initially been ignored by a number of the protesters. While some stood down, a faction of hardliners remained behind until Wednesday evening.

The embassy said in a statment that evening that all consular operations have been suspended until further notice.

Washington has blamed Iran for orchestrating the embassy riots, and for directing militias like Kataib Hezbollah to attack its forces in Iraq. Tehran denies all responsibility, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei telling Trump that “your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan… have made nations hate you.”

With the embassy showdown turning into another proxy battle between Iran and the US, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has sought to balance relations with both sides. The PM called the US airstrikes a “vicious assault that will have dangerous consequences,” but warned protesters against any aggression towards foreign embassies.

Also on rt.com Iran’s Supreme Leader hits back at Trump’s ‘big price’ threat, says US ‘took revenge’ for defeating ISIS

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