Donald Trump says Iran will 'pay a very big price' after protesters attack US Embassy in Iraq

Last Updated: Jan 01 2020 15:51
Reading time: 1 min, 55 secs

On Tuesday, protesters shouting "Death to America!" bashed into the US Embassy compound in Baghdad as protests intensified after U.S. airstrikes killed 25 fighters of an Iran-backed militia in Iraq.

No deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported at the protest. The Pentagon said it rushed reinforcements to the embassy, and Army Apache AH-64 attack helicopters swooped over the complex.

By early evening Tuesday, the mob had retreated from the compound but set up several tents outside for a sit-in. Dozens of yellow flags belonging to Iran-backed Shiite militias fluttered atop the reception area and were plastered along the embassy’s concrete wall along with anti-U.S. graffiti. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who condemned the airstrikes, had urged militiamen and their supporters to leave the embassy area and halt the violence.

"Any aggression or harassment of foreign embassies and representations is an act that will be strictly prohibited by the security forces and will be punished by law with the most severe penalties," Mahdi warned in a statement.

Protesters had barged through a door and set fire to a reception area. Smoke and flames rose from the area as a man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying, “The message was delivered.”

The State Department said all embassy personnel were safe and that no evacuation was planned.

“We rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country,"  U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. "We call on the government of Iraq to fulfil its international responsibilities to do so."

President Donald Trump, on Twitter, condemned Iran for orchestrating the embassy attack.

"Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will," Trump tweeted. "They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!"

Late Tuesday afternoon, Trump tweeted "Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request....

"Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities," Trump said. "They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat."

In another tweet, Trump called Tuesday's incident the "Anti-Benghazi."