December 31, 2019
- Some protesters threw stones at the gate
- Many senior militia leaders were among the protesters
Some Iraqi protesters threw stones at the gate while others chanted, “No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!.” (File/AFP)
BAGHDAD – Tear gas was fired to push Iraqi demonstrators back from US embassy, AFP reported on Tuesday. Thousand protesters and militia fighters gathered outside the main gate of the US embassy compound in Baghdad to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq.
The US ambassador and other staff have been evacuated from the embassy, two Iraqi Foreign Ministry officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
The ambassador and staff left out of security concerns. One official said a few embassy protection staff remained.
US forces carried out air strikes on Sunday against the Kataeb Hezbollah militia in response to the killing of a US civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base.
The strikes risk drawing Iraq further into a proxy conflict between the United States and Iran at a time when it is being rocked by mass protests against the political system.
Some protesters threw stones at the gate while others chanted, “No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!” Iraqi special forces were deployed around the main gate to prevent them entering the embassy.
Qais Al-Khazali, leader of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia, and many other senior militia leaders were among the protesters. Kataeb Hezbollah flags were hung on the fence surrounding the building.
Iraqis are taking to the streets in their thousands almost daily to condemn, among other things, militias such as Kataeb Hezbollah and their Iranian patrons that support Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.
Abdul Mahdi condemned the strikes, which killed at least 25 fighters and wounded 55.