Protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday and the ambassador and other staff were evacuated as anger over U.S. air strikes on Iraq erupted into violence.
In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Iran of orchestrating the unrest and said Tehran would be held responsible.
The protesters and militia fighters stormed and burned a security kiosk at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy but did not breach the main compound as security forces and embassy guards fired tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.
They 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 later reinforced them.
U.S. planes on Sunday had attacked bases belonging to an Iranian-backed militia - an action 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.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” Trump said in a tweet.
“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.”
The two Iraqi foreign ministry officials said the U.S. ambassador and other staff had left, but they did not say when. A few embassy protection staff remained, they said.