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31 Dec 2019 | 03:50 AM UTC

Iraq: US Embassy staff evacuated due to ongoing protest in Baghdad December 31 /update 1

US Embassy staff in Baghdad evacuated due to ongoing protest on December 31; avoid the area

security
transportation
IRQ

Event

US Embassy staff in Baghdad have been evacuated due to an ongoing protest outside the Embassy on Tuesday, December 31. Protesters gathered earlier in the day to oppose recent US airstrikes on military targets in Al Qaim. Media reports suggest that hundreds have gathered and that participants tried to storm the compound, which potentially prompted the evacuation.

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.