Dozens of 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, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire, angered over deadly U.S. airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed militia.
There were no reports of casualties, but the unprecedented breach was one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent memory. It followed deadly U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The U.S. military said the airstrikes were in retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it had blamed on the militia. The developments represent a major downturn in Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S. influence in the region and also weaken Washington's hand in its maximum pressure campaign against Iran. President Donald Trump is blaming Iran for a breach of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad and is calling on Iraq to protect the embassy. Trump tweeted Tuesday that “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many.” Trump says,
"We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!
With files from the Associated Press
With guest host Kyle Stokes
Aaron David Miller, an expert on Middle East and U.S. diplomatic history and senior fellow at the DC-based think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; former State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations; he tweets @aarondmiller2