Protesters Storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad After Airstrikes, Additional Forces Deployed to Bolster Security

Hundreds of protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in the high-security Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday following the airstrikes conducted by the U.S. forces targeting Iran-backed militias.

In one of the worst attacks on a U.S. embassy in recent times, the protestors smashed the main door and set fire to a reception area. The protestors were mainly supporters of the powerful Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces, PMF) paramilitary group whose members were killed in the U.S. airstrikes. They are demanding the removal of American troops from Iraq.

There were no reports of casualties in the incident with the U.S. State Department saying that all American personnel were safe, and there are no plans to evacuate the embassy.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement that Iran will be held fully responsible for the incident and called on Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy.

During the protests, a U.S. Army Apache attack helicopter dropped flares while flying over the embassy in a ‘show of force’.

The U.S. has deployed more than 100 Marines from Kuwait to the embassy to bolster security. The U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) arrived in the embassy compound abroad USMC MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft on Dec. 31.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Esper also authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of operations in response to the events.

Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days, according to a Pentagon statement.

U.S. Airstrikes

The U.S. forces have conducted ‘precision defensive strikes’ against five Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) facilities in Iraq and Syria. The strikes were in response to KH attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces. The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.

Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The KH attacks have also injured multiple members of the ISF.

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