Iraqi Shia militia supporters storm US embassy in Baghdad

31 December 2019, 10:08 | Updated: 2 January 2020, 11:34

Protesters have stormed the US embassy in Baghdad
Protesters have stormed the US embassy in Baghdad. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Iraqi Shia militia supporters have broken down the gate at the US embassy in Baghdad and stormed inside the compound.

A group of protesters stormed the gate and set fire to outbuildings. US president Donald Trump described it as an 'orchestrated attack' and said those behind it would be held 'fully responsible.'

"Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. 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!" said Mr Trump.

The protest was in response to deadly American airstrikes this week that killed 25 members of an Iranian-backed militia.

Dozens of people smashed a door and stormed inside amid tear gas and sounds of gunfire.

Flames were seen rising from inside the compound and at least three US soldiers were spotted on the roof of the embassy.

It is not clear what caused a fire at the reception area near the car park of the compound.

A man on a loudspeaker urged protesters not to enter the compound, saying: "The message was delivered."

Hundreds of people had approached the embassy following American air strikes which killed 25 fighters from an Iranian-backed Shia militia.

The US military carried out the strikes on Sunday against the Iranian-backed Kataeb Hezbollah militia, an act of retaliation over last week's killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base which was blamed on the group.

The protesters hung a poster on the wall saying "America is an aggressor".

Shouting "Down, Down USA", the crowd had earlier raised yellow militia flags and taunted the embassy's security staff who remained behind the glass windowed reception area. They sprayed graffiti on the wall and windows in red in support of the Kataeb Hezbollah militia.

No one was immediately reported hurt in the rampage and security staff had withdrawn inside the embassy earlier, soon after protesters gathered outside.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Sunday's strikes sent the message that the US will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardise American lives.