12/31/2019, 11.41
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Baghdad, thousands of protesters attack the US embassy

The demonstrators burned flags and chanted slogans and songs, including "Death to America".  Ambassador and part of the staff evacuated.  The assault is a response to the US raid against pro-Iranian targets over the weekend.  The Iraqi premier condemns the military operation.  Shiite militiamen threaten reprisals.



Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thousands of protesters attacked the United States Embassy in Baghdad this morning, burning US flags and detaching video surveillance cameras.  For security reasons, the American ambassador and part of the staff were evacuated.

Chanting slogans and songs including "Death to America", the demonstrators took to the streets to protest the US aviation raids in Iraq (and Syria) in recent days against pro-Iranian targets, including Kataib Hezbollah.  Attacks launched by Washington in response to the killing of a US contractor on 27 December during a missile attack on Kirkuk.

Among the thousands of people involved in the assault there are also participants in the funeral procession of the 25 fighters killed during the US raid on 29 December.  The group passed the checks without encountering resistance and reached the Green Zone, home to diplomatic missions.  The intervention of the security forces prevented a further escalation of the protest.

Interim Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi strongly condemned the military operation wanted by the White House on Iraqi territory, in the context of a proxy confrontation underway for some time between the US and Iran in the region.  A government note reads: "The Prime Minister defines the American attack on the Iraqi armed forces as unacceptable and with dangerous consequences".  This is echoed by the leader of the pro-Shiite popular mobilization forces Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, who threatens "a very tough response" against the American forces in Iraq.

The demonstrations against the United States, which are likely to trigger a new crisis in the area, arrive in a critical context for Iraq, the scene since last October 1 of a vast protest movement against the government and authorities.  The demonstrations, forcefully repressed by the police, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, but the demonstrators - without ethnic, confessional or religious distinctions - are aiming for the fall of the entire political class.

The tightening strengthened in late November, following the double assault on the Iranian consulate in Najaf, and caused a total of over 450 dead and 20,000 injured.

Meanwhile, tension is also high in other Iraqi cities: a group of demonstrators today closed station 6 west of the Qurna 1 oil field in Basra, blocking the entry of workers.  At the moment there is no confirmation of a production stoppage, as was recently the case in Nassiriya.


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