Outraged Iraqi protesters on Tuesday stormed the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, protesting Washington’s attacks on armed battalions belong to Iranian-backed Hashd Al-Shaabi forces, Anadolu Agency reports.
At least 25 people were killed in weekend US air strikes on positions of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia group, in Iraq and Syria.
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered early Tuesday near the embassy to show their anger at the US attacks.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene, some Iraqi protesters set fire to the walls surrounding the embassy compound.
An Iraqi security source, for his part, said most of the embassy staffers had been evacuated, fearing that it would be stormed by protesters gathering in front of the gate.
The source, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told Anadolu Agency: “The embassy evacuated its main employees to an unknown location as tension mounted in front of the embassy.”
He added, “there is a fear that the fighters in the crowd and those loyal to them may storm the embassy building,” stressing that the embassy headquarters is now all but vacant.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that prominent leaders of the Hashd Al-Shabi factions were leading the protests, while protesters began erecting sit-in tents in front of the embassy compound.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the weekend attacks, calling them “a clear violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.”
“Iraq is an independent country,” said a ministry statement, adding that it will not allow Iraq to be turned into “a battlefield or a crossing point for an attack, or its territories to be used to target neighboring countries.”
The US ambassador in Baghdad will be summoned to deliver the statement to his superiors, said the statement.