WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Iran will be held accountable for lives lost in attacks on any U.S. facilities.
“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” Trump wrote on Twitter hours after protesters angry about U.S. air strikes on Iraq hurled stones and torched a security post at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
“The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site,” Trump said.
Pro-Iran paramilitary groups have withdrawn from outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a day after a mob attacked the compound, prompting U.S. authorities to deploy hundreds more troops to the region.
The January 1 statement by Iraq’s military command followed a call earlier in the day from the Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella group for its supporters to withdraw from the compound.
The umbrella group, which is made up of mainly Shi’ite militia members, had been one of the lead organizers of the angry protests at the American facility in response to U.S. air strikes in Iraq earlier in the week.
The crowds chanted “‘Death to America!” and set fires as they breached an outer perimeter of the embassy on December 31.
They did not, however, enter the main compound. Many of those involved were seen carrying flags of the Kataib Hizbullah, or Hezbollah Brigades, a paramilitary group supported by Iran.
The confrontation at the Baghdad US embassy was some of the worst recent violence targeting U.S. forces in Iraq. It also appeared to be the worst to target a U.S. diplomatic facility since the assault on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.
Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler