Militiamen withdraw from US Embassy in Iraq

Orient Net 2020-01-02 07:54:00

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Iranian regime-backed militiamen withdrew from the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Wednesday (January 1) after two days of clashes with American security forces, but US-Iran tensions remain high and could spill over into further violence.

The withdrawal followed calls from the government and senior militia leaders. It ended a two-day crisis marked by the breach of the largest and one of the most heavily fortified US diplomatic missions in the world.

The attack and its volatile aftermath prompted the Pentagon to send hundreds of additional troops to the Middle East and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to delay a European and Central Asian trip.

In an orchestrated assault, hundreds of militiamen and their supporters broke into the embassy compound, destroying a reception area, smashing windows and spraying graffiti on walls to protest US airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia over the weekend that killed 25 militiamen.

The US blamed the militia for a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in the northern city of Kirkuk last week that killed a US contractor.

The protesters set up a tent camp overnight and on Wednesday set fire to the reception area and ha hrefed stones at US Marines guarding the compound, who responded with tear gas. There were no injuries on either side and no American staff were evacuated from the compound.

The Pentagon sent an infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers to the Middle East. A US official familiar with the decision said they would go to Kuwait. Pompeo postponed a trip that was scheduled to start in Ukraine late Thursday so that he can monitor developments in Iraq and “ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

Based on AP

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