Iraqi supporters of pro-Iran factions attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Tuesday, December 31, trying to break the armored glass windows at the entrance the embassy, in anger over U.S. air strikes on Sunday that killed 25 militia fighters.
READ MORE: Security forces at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad fired tear gas Tuesday in response to protesters who breached the outer edge of the compound as they rallied in condemnation of U.S. airstrikes targeting an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq and Syria.
Some of the thousands of protesters set small fires, threw stones and waved flags in support of militia groups.
The Sunday strikes have sparked anger and criticism by top Iraqi officials, but the United States is defending its actions and warning it could strike again.
President Donald Trump put the blame on Iran for the breaching of the U.S. embassy compound.
The U.S. airstrikes targeting Kataeb Hezbollah weapons storage facilities and command and control locations across Iraq and eastern Syria killed at least 25 people and injured dozens more.
U.S. officials said the strikes were in response to a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base on Friday that killed a U.S. defense contractor. Officials said the evidence left no doubt Kataeb Hezbollah was responsible.
Kataeb Hezbollah, part of the state-sanctioned militias operating in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), has denied responsibility for the Friday attack that killed the U.S. contractor. But it warned a response would be forthcoming.
Since May, the United States has sent an additional 14,000 forces to the Middle East, along with air and missile defense systems and additional reconnaissance capabilities, in response to what officials see as a growing threat from Iran and its proxies.
U.S. officials also warned they planned to hit Iran with additional economic sanctions in the coming year, saying, “Iran’s economic problems and challenges are going to compound in 2020,” an official said.