Crowds of angry Iraqis protesting America’s recent airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia laid siege to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad Tuesday, chanting “Down, Down USA!” as they stormed through a main gate, prompting U.S. guards to fire back tear gas in response.
As of Tuesday night, protesters set up tents outside the embassy in the Iraqi capital where they said they intended to stage a sit-in “until American troops leave Iraq and the embassy is closed.” About 100 Marines are being sent to the embassy to bolster security and an Army Apache helicopter flew over the premises and dropped flares in a “show of force”, hoping to disburse the crowd, a U.S. defense official told Fox News.
Earlier in the day, at least six U.S. soldiers were seen standing on the roof of the main building pointing their firearms at the demonstrators and sounds of gunfire could be heard.
Two Iraqi foreign ministry officials initially told Reuters the U.S. ambassador and staff were evacuated, but U.S. officials pushed back, telling Fox News that was not correct. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller was not evacuated, but was out of the country on a planned vacation, an official said. A State Department spokesperson later told Fox News that “U.S. personnel are secure.”
“We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense,” added Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy.” – READ MORE