Members of an Iran-backed militia ended a two-day siege of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Wednesday after trapping American diplomats inside and destroying parts of the compound.
Hundreds of militiamen and protesters, some chanting “Death to America,” clashed with American security forces on Monday and Tuesday and broke into the embassy compound, burning a reception area and vandalizing it with graffiti. The demonstrators threw rocks at U.S. Marines guarding the embassy, who shot tear gas at the attackers.
The Defense Department deployed roughly 750 troops to Kuwait over the weekend as the violence at the embassy escalated.
The attack was retaliation for several airstrikes the U.S. launched over the weekend at an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia that killed at least 25 fighters in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. launched several “precision defensive strikes” on five sites controlled by the militia Kataeb Hezbollah, which the administration blames for a rocket attack that killed a U.S. defense contractor at a U.S. military compound in northern Iraq on Friday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the airstrikes were a “defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq” and delayed a scheduled trip to Europe and Central Asia.
The withdrawal came a day after the leaders of the Iranian-backed militias called for an end to the attacks, saying their decision was based on the Iraqi prime minister’s promise to push legislation to require American troops to leave Iraq.
President Trump said he was satisfied with how the situation was resolved and promised the incident “will not be a Benghazi,” referring to the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
“I think it’s been handled very well,” Trump told reporters. “We have some of our greatest warriors there. They got in there very quickly.”