The U.S. ambassador to Iraq and other staff were evacuated from their embassy in Baghdad for their safety, Iraqi officials said, as thousands of protesters and militia fighters thronged the gates, threw stones and lit fires in fury at U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
On Sunday, U.S. planes had attacked bases belonging to an Iranian-backed militia, a move that risks drawing Iraq further into a proxy conflict between Washington and Tehran at a time when mass protests are challenging Iraq’s political system.
The attack on the Kataib Hezbollah militia was in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base.
The two Iraqi foreign ministry officials did not say when the U.S. ambassador or other staff had left but added that a few embassy protection staff remained.
Outside the embassy, protesters threw stones at the gate while others chanted, “No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!” Iraqi special forces were deployed around the main gate to prevent them entering the embassy. U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi Counter Terrorism forces were later dispatched to reinforce these units.