Trump calls on Iraq to protect US embassy
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he expects Iraq to "use its forces" to protect the US embassy in Baghdad after protesters linked to a powerful militia breached the outer wall of the compound during a protest against American air strikes.
"We expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!" Trump tweeted.
Iraqi supporters of pro-Iran factions swarmed the embassy early Tuesday, breaching its outer wall and chanting "Death to America" in anger over weekend air strikes that killed two dozen Hezbollah Brigade militias.
It was the first time in years that protesters have been able to reach the US embassy, which is sheltered behind a series of checkpoints in the high-security Green Zone.
Trump blamed Iran for organising the attack on the diplomatic compound and warned Tehran would be held accountable.
"Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible," he tweeted.
The demonstrators were protesting against US air strikes that killed at least 25 fighters from a hardline Hashed faction known as Hezbollah Brigades on Sunday.
Those strikes were in response to a 36-rocket attack last week that killed one American contractor at an Iraqi base, the latest in a string of attacks on areas where US troops are deployed.
They have not been claimed, but US security assessments have largely blamed them on Hezbollah Brigades.
In his tweet, Trump said the US had "strongly responded" to the attack that killed the US contractor and "always will" in similar situations.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated since the US in 2018 pulled out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.
Trump has since imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at curbing the clerical regime's regional influence.
Iraq had long feared being caught in the middle of escalating tensions between the two countries, which are its main allies.
Read More: From Lebanon to Kashmir: The New Arab's 10 biggest stories of 2019
Special counter-terrorism forces arrived at the embassy after it was stormed and launched tear gas grenades at the protesters.
Hundreds of Iraqi mourners had gathered outside the US embassy on Tuesday morning. Shouting "Down, Down USA!" the crowd tried to push inside the embassy grounds, hurling water bottles and smashing security cameras outside.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades militia said that 20 of its supporters were injured during the storming.