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31 Dec 2019 | 04:53 AM UTC

Iraq: Security forces deployed to US Embassy in Baghdad amid ongoing protest December 31 /update 2

Iraqi forces sent as reinforcements to US Embassy in Baghdad amid ongoing protest December 31; avoid the area

security
transportation
IRQ

Event

Iraqi forces have been deployed to the US Embassy in Baghdad as reinforcements amid an ongoing protest in which protesters have reportedly managed to enter the compound on Tuesday, December 31. Hundreds have gathered earlier on Tuesday to oppose recent US airstrikes on military targets in Al Qaim. Reports of tear gas and live ammunition have emerged as security forces tried to hold crowds of protesters back. Other sources indicate that protesters have also set fire to part of the Embassy, including one guard tower. Earlier claims that Embassy staff have been evacuated are now being disputed.

A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are likely to continue over the coming several hours.

Context

The US military carried out airstrikes on multiple locations in Iraq linked with the Kataib Hezbollah militia group on Sunday, December 29, killing 25 people. The operation comes two days after a US civilian contractor was killed in a rocket attack on the K1 Iraqi military base near Kirkuk. US officials have blamed the Iran-backed militia group for the incident. Two Kataib Hezbollah locations in Syria were reportedly targeted in Sunday's operation as well.

Advice

Individuals in Baghdad are advised to avoid the area, monitor the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities.

The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.