Iraqi security forces regain control of area around US Embassy two days after violent protests

Iraqi security forces regained control of the area around the US Embassy in Baghdad after the compound was rocked by a second day of mass protests.

Earlier Wednesday security personnel fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of protesters — who also attempted to climb the building’s walls.

Witnesses said the protesters were hurling rocks, and trying to set fire to walls and security booths at the embassy’s main entrance.

It was the second day of mass demonstrations outside the building in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, in response to US airstrikes on an Iranian-backed militia group on Sunday.

But by Wednesday evening, the protesters had cleared away from the embassy compound’s entrance.

“We have issued the order for everyone to withdraw, because America should have received our message,” said a spokesman for the main protest group, Kataib Hezbollah, which had been targeted by the US airstrikes.

The protests broke out after the US carried out airstrikes on five facilities in Iraq and Syria, which it said were linked to the Iranian-backed group, killing dozens of people.

US officials hold Kataib Hezbollah responsible for a growing number of rocket attacks against American facilities in Iraq.

The death of a US contractor in one such attack last week was the last straw for the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump blamed Iran for both the US contractor’s death and Tuesday’s attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and warned Iran’s leaders they would be held responsible for any deaths or destruction at the embassy.

In the wake of Tuesday’s attack on the US Embassy, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US would send approximately 750 soldiers to the Middle East.

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