Foreign nationals allegedly planned terror attacks on behalf of Daesh/ISIS terrorist group during New Year’s celebrations.
Outraged Iraqi protesters on Tuesday stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, protesting Washington’s attacks on armed battallions belong to Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi forces.
At least 25 people were killed in weekend U.S. airstrikes 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 U.S. attacks.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene, some protesters set fire to the walls surrounding the compound.
Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that police and the army reached the vicinity of the embassy in the diplomatic Green Zone and began firing tear gas to disperse the crowds and keep them away from the embassy compound.
They said protesters threw stones and empty water bottles at the embassy.
Hashd Al-Shaabi said in a statement that 62 protesters were injured in front of the embassy.
The group stressed that injuries were from “shooting and smoke bombs [fired]from inside the American Embassy.”
The embassy is yet to comment on the group’s accusations.
An Iraqi security source told Anadolu Agency that most of the embassy staffers had been evacuated, fearing that it would be stormed by protesters gathering in front of the gate.
“The embassy evacuated its main employees to an unknown location as tension mounted in front of the embassy,” according to the source who asked not to be named for security reasons.
“There is a fear that the fighters in the crowd and those loyal to them may storm the embassy building,” he said, stressing that the embassy headquarters is now all but vacant.
Meanwhile, witnesses told Anadolu Agency that prominent leaders of the Hashd al-Shabi factions were leading protests, while protesters began erecting sit-in tents in front of the embassy compound.
Three witnesses told Anadolu Agency that the leaders Hadi al-Amiri and Qais al-Khazali were leading the protests.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry condemned the weekend attacks as “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 U.S. ambassador in Baghdad will be summoned to deliver a statement to his superiors, said the statement.