Dozens of Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, angered over deadly U.S. airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed militia. U.S. guards fired tear gas and palls of smoke rose over the grounds.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the main embassy building. There was a fire at the reception area near the compound’s parking lot but it was unclear what had caused it. A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”
The men did not enter the main embassy buildings and later withdrew from the compound, joining thousands of militia fighters outside who chanted “Death to America,” threw rocks, covered the walls with graffiti and demanded that the United States withdraw its forces from Iraq.
The situation remained combustible, with protesters vowing to camp outside the compound indefinitely. Their ability to storm the most heavily guarded zone in Baghdad suggested that they had received at least tacit permission from Iraqi security officials sympathetic to their demands.