United States and Iraqi forces at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad fired tear gas to disperse Iraqi protesters who gathered at the walls of the compound for a second day to show support for a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia.
Dozens of protesters and supporters of the Hashd Shaabi militia set up camp outside the gates of the embassy on Wednesday, one day after thousands converged on Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone to decry U.S. strikes that killed at least 25 militiamen on the weekend.
Several protesters set fire to the outside wall of the embassy, where heavily armed U.S. forces were seen standing on the roof of the building, witnesses said.
Some protesters suffered breathing problems from the tear gas, the witnesses added.
The U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday targeted the Kataib Hezbollah militia group, which was blamed for an attack last week that killed a U.S. citizen.
Kataib Hezbollah, a part of the Hashd Saabi umbrella group, is independent from the Hezbollah group in Lebanon that is trained and financed by Iran.
Chanting “Death to America,” angry protesters on Tuesday broke into the U.S. embassy compound and set fire to one of its gates.
U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed the attack on Iran and said the country will “pay a very big price.”
Tehran has blasted Washington’s “irrational response” to the protests and denied any involvement.
Trump spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi by phone on Tuesday and “emphasised the need to protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper called on the government of Iraq to “fulfil its international responsibilities” to protect US citizens in the country.
Washington has announced that it will immediately deploy 750 soldiers to Iraq “as an appropriate and precautionary action.”