President Donald Trump accused Iran of orchestrating the storming of the US embassy in the Iraq capital Baghdad, warning that Tehran would face punishment if Americans are killed.
According to The Washington Post, the US flew a rapid response team of Marines into Baghdad to reinforce its embassy on Tuesday after a mob of pro-Iranian demonstrators stormed the compound, setting fires and chanting “Death to America!”
Angered by US airstrikes that killed two dozen fighters, hundreds of protesters spilled through checkpoints in the high-security Green Zone, demanding the ouster of US troops from Iraq and voicing loyalty to a powerful Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
US President Donald Trump blamed Tehran and warned that it would face punishment if Americans are killed.
“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” Trump said on Twitter on late Tuesday.
“They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” wrote Trump, adding “Happy New Year!”
Thousands of protesters and militia fighters gathered outside the main gate of the embassy compound to condemn US airstrikes on bases belonging to an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq.
The US ambassador and other staff have been evacuated from the embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, as protests rage outside, two Iraqi Foreign Ministry officials said on Tuesday.
The ambassador and staff left out of security concerns. One official said a few embassy protection staff remained.
Only a small amount of tear gas was used on militia forces, however; crowd dispersion sound frequencies contributed to the people to disperse, a Reuters witness said.