Photos show extensive damage to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after it was attacked by supporters of an Iran-backed militia on Tuesday.
Among other things, the pictures depict a charred reception room, burnt checkpoint and fire-damaged entrance.
A spokesperson with the U.S. State Department told Military Times Tuesday that protesters never breached the embassy. But demonstrators were able to access a reception area and entered the larger compound that surrounds the embassy.
Supporters of the Iran-backed militia Kata’ib Hizbollah attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday following U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 29 that targeted five facilities belonging to the group. The U.S. has blamed the Iran-supported group for a series of rocket attacks aimed at coalition bases in Iraq.
Violent demonstrations at the embassy prompted U.S. officials to beef up security with additional Marines and other assets.
Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters are seen through broken windows of a burned checkpoint in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. U.S. troops have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of pro-Iran militiamen and other protesters who were gathered for a second day outside the American Embassy compound in Baghdad. (Khalid Mohammed/AP Photo)
The Associated Press reported that U.S. troops had to fire tear gas to disperse the angry protesters.
About 100 Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response–Central Command were dispatched to the embassy Tuesday and arrived within a few hours.
The Pentagon has also deployed a battalion of paratroopers with the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division to respond to the volatile security situation unfolding in Iraq.
Several thousand more U.S. troops may be headed to the Middle East in the coming days, a U.S. defense official told Military Times.
“We are very confident that the integrity of that embassy is strong and it is highly unlikely to be physically overrun by anyone. There is sufficient combat power there, the air and ground. Anyone who attempts to overrun that will run into a buzzsaw,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.
Milley said the perpetrators of Tuesday’s assault on the American embassy were core members of Kata’ib Hizbollah. He said the Iran-backed militia group had even set up a command post outside the embassy.
Smoke rises from the reception room of the U.S. embassy that was burned by Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. U.S. troops fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse pro-Iran protesters who were gathered outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad for a second day after pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters had camped out overnight at the gates of the embassy. On Tuesday, dozens of the protesters had broken into the compound, trashing a reception area and smashing windows in one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent memory. (Khalid Mohammed/AP Photo)
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Military Times Wednesday that the security situation around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had improved and that Iraq deployed forces “to fulfill their duty to protect our diplomatic mission.”
The State Department spokesperson said that “as of Wednesday evening, most individuals have left the immediate area.”
“Though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post security posture remains heightened,” the spokesperson explained.
With Sunday’s strikes against Kata’ib Hizbollah President Donald Trump’s administration appears to be holding Iran responsible for the malign actions of its militias and proxy forces across the region.
“The game has changed, and we’re prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Thursday.