Crowds of protesters in Baghdad attempted to storm the US embassy this morning. Reports are still unclear about the extent of the damage caused, or the current situation. Earlier, Iraqi government officials reported the US ambassador, diplomatic staff, and other employees had been evacuated from the embassy. The US State Department, however, refuted the claim and stated that the staff is still in the embassy compound in a fortified area. US Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller is currently out of the country on a pre-scheduled vacation. Video from the scene has revealed that US guards and employees are still at the embassy. The troops went into action using tear gas to keep the protesters at bay. Iraqi security forces later intervened and the situation, although still tense, has not escalated.
The US embassy in Baghdad is located in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
The Trump administration wasted little time blaming Iran for orchestrating the action. Many of the protesters appear to be members of the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia. Over two dozen militia members were killed in US airstrikes on Sunday that came in retaliation for the rocket attack on a base in Kirkuk which killed one US defense contractor, and wounded several US troops.
The crowd now gathered outside the US embassy now appears to be setting up for a long-term protest and siege of sorts. Tents are being erected, and the number of protesters appears to be increasing. A Kataib Hezbollah spokesman said the militia plans to remain encamped outside of the embassy until it closes and all US personnel leave Iraq.
More information on the situation in Iraq will be posted later in the day.