The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is being attacked by Iraqi Shiite militia supporters, who’ve broken into the compound.
According to the Associated Press, a fire has been set and sounds of gunfire were heard.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the main building inside embassy. It was not clear what caused the fire at the reception area near the parking lot of the compound. A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”
Smoke from the tear gas rose in the area, and at least three of the protesters appeared to have difficulties breathing.
The gate that was smashed was a side-entrance, one used by cars to enter the embassy compound. Hundreds of protesters had pushed about 5 meters (16 feet) into a corridor that leads to the main building but the protesters were still about 200 meters (yards) away from it. (AP)
The crowd had been chanting “Down, down USA”, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as they tried scaling the embassy’s walls.
BREAKING - Hundreds of Kataib Hezbollah supporters are swarming the US embassy in Baghdad. No attempt to stop them by Iraqi forced guarding the Green Zone. No way out for diplomats. V. dangerous situation pic.twitter.com/sUgTI8iXHb— Liz Sly (@LizSly) December 31, 2019
Kata'ib Hezbollah is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and the attack should be treated as a terrorist attack and not a bunch of "protesters" getting out of controlhttps://t.co/do8GT83AKX https://t.co/ypsbg3zmoB— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 31, 2019
JUSTin : Electrical and communication cabins supplied to the US embassy building torched while embassy staff are still inside. !! https://t.co/KaBaGUi8iw— ??? ?????? ???? Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization) December 31, 2019
The attack comes after the U.S. carried out airstrikes against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia, in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the killing of a U.S. contractor and injuries to four U.S. troops and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Iraq condemned the airstrikes, calling them a “violation of Iraq's sovereignty” and the terrorists vowed to retaliate, with KH’s military commander reportedly saying their forces were “ready to destroy the bases of the American occupiers and crush their rotten heads.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) weighed in on the attack early Tuesday morning, saying Iran "must be held accountable" and asked for prayers for the soldiers still inside the embassy.
Pray for these brave young Americans who remain at their post at the Embassy in Baghdad while an Iranian directed mob attacks the embassy.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 31, 2019
The U.S. should employ whatever it takes to secure their safety & the safety of all Americans inside the compound. https://t.co/0H3Epo5g7c
LATEST on #Iraq— Ragip Soylu (@ragipsoylu) December 31, 2019
• Protesters leave the interior of the US Embassy in Baghdad but continue to stone the building
• Iraq special forces use tear gas to disperse crowds
• Iran-linked militia leaders in the vicinity along with Iraqi interior and defense ministers
• NO DEATHS pic.twitter.com/asD9YdP7PB
Updates from outside US embassy in #Iraq:— Maya Gebeily (@GebeilyM) December 31, 2019
-Security forces deploy on roof of embassy & fire tear gas, flash bangs to keep protesters away
-Demonstrators hoist PMF, Iraqi, Kataeb Hezbollah flags at embassy
-NSA Faleh Fayyadh, Qais al-Khazaali, Hadi al-Ameri all outside embassy
Update: President Trump responded and said Iran "will be held fully responsible."
Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019