Around 100 U.S. Marines are reportedly being sent to the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, to help with security as protestors attempted to break in Tuesday.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson tweeted about the decision to send Marines to help fortify defenses, citing a U.S. defense official. The news comes as some of the hundreds protesting against Americans airstrikes began to try and break into the embassy, which is the largest U.S. embassy in the world.
~100 U.S. Marines being sent to U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to bolster security: U.S. defense official. No plans to evacuate embassy personnel.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 31, 2019
The embassy has been put under lockdown and protestors have not breached the compound, CNN reported, citing an embassy spokesperson. They did manage to scale walls and force the gates of the embassy. Photos show protestors working to break down the embassy’s bullet-proof windows after breaching its outer walls.
This embassy employs around 16,000 staffers, but it is not clear how many people remain inside. It spans around 100 acres, which equals Vatican City in size. (Trump Denies He Gave Final Approval For Military Strikes Against Iran, Says No Planes Were In The Air)
Matthew Tueller, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has been on vacation and was not at the compound when the protests began, the embassy spokesperson said according to CNN.
Gunshots were reportedly heard in the area, according to Fox News. Security personnel used tear gas to prevent anyone from entering the building and protestors began to burn things outside of the building. They also broke windows and security cameras and could be heard shouting “death to America!”
BREAKING: An armed Iraqi militia has stormed the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, after breaking down the embassy walls and starting fires around the compound.pic.twitter.com/aj9qmluxLi
— Michael Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) December 31, 2019
The protests stem from five American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on places controlled by Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi Shia paramilitary group. At least 25 people died and 51 were wounded in the airstrikes, which are a response to Kataeb Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets, CNN reported.
Trump responded to the ongoing embassy attack Tuesday morning, placing the blame on Iran. Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi issued a statement urging protestors to leave diplomatic buildings alone.
“While we condemn the US air strikes on Iraqi military units, and acknowledge that symbolic funeral marches for the martyrs is a solemn act of remembrance, those taking part must stay away from diplomatic buildings and compounds,” the PM said according to a tweet from the Iraqi government.
Commander-in-Chief PM @AdilAbdAlMahdi issues a statement on the latest developments in Iraq.
— Government of Iraq – الحكومة العراقية (@IraqiGovt) December 31, 2019