Mike Pompeo holds crisis talks with Iraq’s president and prime minister as mob storms American embassy in Baghdad
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got on the phone with both Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih
- Pompeo dialed the Iraqi leaders in the hours following the American embassy in Baghdad being stormed by an angry mob
- Protesters attacked the embassy in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed fighters associated with the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked to both Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih separately by phone Tuesday on the heels of the American embassy in Baghdad being stormed by an angry mob.
‘The Secretary made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq,’ a readout from State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
Earlier Tuesday, several thousand protesters stormed the so-called Green Zone, burning U.S. flags, setting fire to the walls and throwing rocks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got on the phone with both Iraqi Prime MinisterAdil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih as U.S.-Iranian tensions exploded in Baghdad, Iraq
Several thousand protesters have broken down the gate of the US embassy in Baghdad, storming the compound as gunshots and sirens ring out, after US air strikes on Hezbollah that killed 25 (pictured: setting fire to the walls and hurling rocks over the barricades)
US soldiers fire tear gas onto protesters who broke into the compound as black smoke from fires set by the rioters billows into the air
This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidential office shows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) talking to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi (left) in Tehran on July 22; Pompeo spokewith Abdul-Mahdi after Iran’s proxy attached the U.S. embassy in Baghdad
Iraq’s president Barham Salih also got a call from Pompeo while militia members stormed the U.S. embassy
The embassy ambush was in retaliation for Sunday night’s airstrikes from U.S. forces against the the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah. American forces struck targets in both Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters.
Protesters who rampaged the U.S. embassy were coming from the funerals of the fighters Tuesday.
President Trump had ordered the airstrikes after an American contractor was killed last week in a rocket attack aimed at U.S. forces stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Pompeo has already been dialing up Middle Eastern leaders to shore up support for U.S. airstrikes.
In a round of calls he made Monday, Pompeo talked with controversial Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, who remains under fire for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump has vowed to hold Tehran accountable for the embassy attack, which is in retaliation for US air strikes on the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah on Sunday night. Those strikes a retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in Kirkuk
US soldiers could be seen inside the building filmed from the outside by furious protesters who pressed up against the glass taunting the personnel
Who are the mob storming the embassy?
The mob are supporters or members of Kataeb Hezbollah, which is separate but linked to the Lebanese Hezbollah, and operates under the umbrella of the Iraqi government sanctioned umbrella of militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Many of the groups, but particularly Kataeb Hezbollah, are backed by Iran.
Kataeb Hezbollah has for months been firing rockets and mortars at US forces throughout Iraq.
It actively stockpiles and smuggles Iranian-made weapons into Iraq.
The terror group has in the past received weapons from the Palestinian Hezbollah, which is also a key ally of Iran.
Hundreds of the yellow flags of the terror group were seen among the masses on Tuesday.
‘The Secretary and the Crown Prince agreed that the Iranian regime and its proxies continue to be a destabilizing force in the region and that nations have a right to defend themselves in the face of these threats,’ State Departement spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a readout of the call.
Pompeo also dialed U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and promised to stay in ‘close communication’ with the leader.
He also phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
Pompeo’s message to the leaders was that American airstrikes have been defensive in nature.
‘The Secretary reiterated that the U.S. will take decisive action to defend its citizens and their interests against Iranian threats,’ the readout of the Netanyahu call said.