The US ambassador to Iraq and other staff were evacuated from their embassy in Baghdad for their safety on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said, as thousands of protesters thronged the gates in fury at US airstrikes in Iraq.
The two Iraqi foreign ministry officials did not say when the US ambassador or other staff had left but added that a few embassy protection staff remained, Reuters reported.
Thousands of angry protesters managed to reach the US diplomatic mission which is located in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, chanting ‘Death to America’ and burning US flags.
The protesters further held up signs calling for the US mission to be shut down and for the parliament to order US forces to leave Iraq.
“Parliament should oust US troops, or else we will,” one poster read.
Many protesters have set up tents, announcing plans for an indefinite sit-in until the embassy is closed and the ambassador expelled from the country.
A few hours into the protest, tear gas was fired in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The commander of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, an offshoot of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), was among the protesters.
“Americans are unwanted in Iraq. They are a source of evil and we want them to leave,” Sheikh Qais al-Khazali said.
The protesters, according to AFP, have breached the outer wall of the high-security compound, prompting the American forces deployed inside to fire tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.
On Sunday, US forces conducted drone strikes on a number of Kata’ib Hezbollah bases in Iraq’s western Anbar province, killing at least 25 individuals and leaving another 51 injured, according to the PMU.
Following the strikes, the Pentagon issued a statement saying that it had targeted three locations of the Iraqi fighters in Iraq and two in Syria in response to alleged attacks targeting American forces.