US sending more troops to Baghdad embassy

Matthew Lee and Robert Burns
Associated Press

Washington – The U.S. will send more troops to protect the embassy compound penetrated by militias and their supporters in Baghdad on Tuesday and does not plan an evacuation, the Pentagon and State Department said.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. has taken actions to “ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats” and to “ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy.”

Protesters burn property in front of the U.S. embassy compound, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire.

The extra force will consist of a small additional detachment of Marine security guards, two defense officials in Washington said. They would be from the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, which is trained specifically to provide security at U.S. diplomatic missions. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be identified.

“U.S. personnel are secure,” added an official from the State Department. “There are no plans to evacuate Embassy Baghdad.” This official also was not authorized to be cited by name.

U.S. soldiers prepare defensive position on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.

Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound, smashing a main door, setting fire to a reception area and drawing tear gas fired by embassy guards. The mob was angered over deadly U.S. airstrikes that targeting the Iran-backed militia on Sunday.