Following a series of American airstrikes that killed 24 Iraqis, thousands of protestors in the country stormed the heavily-guarded United States Embassy in Baghdad Tuesday, setting portions of the compound on fire.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal report the protest comes days after the weekend American airstrikes on targets associated with Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group backed by the government of Iran.
The Times reports that protestors chanted “Death to America” as they hurled rocks at the embassy. Fires were also lit, and pipes were used to break windows.
At first, none of the protesters was able to gain access to any of the main embassy buildings, the reports state. Later on Tuesday, though, doors to the embassy were breached.
The outlets also report graffiti was left on the buildings as well as flags affiliated with the militia group.
The protesters are demanding the United States withdraw from Iraq following the weekend strikes in both that country and Syria that killed dozens.
The airstrikes were launched in response to a missile attack carried out on an Iraqi military base that claimed the life of an American contractor.
Other members of both the Iraqi and U.S. militaries were injured in that missile strike, which President Donald Trump said he believes was plotted by Iran.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” the president wrote on Twitter. “We strongly responded, and always will. 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!”
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in a statement Tuesday additional forces are being dispatched to the embassy to support the personnel already on site.
“As in all countries, we rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country, and we call on the government of Iraq to fulfill its international responsibilities to do so,” the statement, cited by the Times, reads.
The embassy complex was constructed in 2009 and covers 104 acres, the Times reports. The paper reports that the Baghdad embassy and an American consulate in the city of Erbil now have a combined staff of 486 people, most of whom are at the embassy.