Hundreds of Iraqis storm US Embassy in Baghdad following airstrikes

Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iraqi Shia militia broke down the US embassy gate door on Tuesday, storming inside the compound as gunshots and sirens rang out.

US security forces inside the compound fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds, which had ignored calls over megaphones to back away from the embassy.

The crowd smashed security cameras on the wall around the US Embassy in Baghdad, hurled stones and set up protest tents there, following deadly US airstrikes this week that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq.

Shouting “Down, Down USA!” the crowd tried to push inside the embassy grounds, hurling water bottles and smashing security cameras outside. They raised militia flags and taunted the embassy’s security staff who remained behind the glass windows in the gates’ reception area. They sprayed graffiti on the wall and windows in red in support of the Kataeb Hezbollah militia: “Closed in the name of the resistance.”

No one was immediately reported hurt in the rampage and security staff had withdrawn to inside the embassy earlier, soon after protesters gathered outside.

The American ambassador to Iraq and other staff left Baghdad out of security cocnerns on Tuesday to an unknown destination, according to Al Arabiya. One official said a few embassy protection staff remained, according to The Associated Press.

Washington on Monday accused Iraqi authorities of having failed to “protect” US interests, the AFP reported, a day after deadly American air strikes against a pro-Iran group sparked anger.