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U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Activates Anti-Air Defenses During Night of Chaos


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The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad reportedly engaged inbound rocket attacks with its air defense system, the C-RAM, which protects aerial threats against the Green Zone.

“Some reports suggest the streets have finally grown calmer in the early morning hours (local time), but this is after an evening and overnight death toll of at least 15, including unconfirmed reports of police casualties. AFP citing local medical sources also says some 350 protesters were injured,” Zero Hedge reports.

This follows reports of protestors storming Baghdad’s Presidential Palace.

U.S. Embassy officials were reportedly evacuated by helicopter.

Currently the Kuwaiti embassy in Iraq is urging all of its citizens to leave the country, and its likely that more regional and gulf states will follow, especially if violence spreads to other provinces.

Here’s a collection of videos from the night’s chaos that shows clashes between pro-Sadr protesters, rival militant factions, and security forces.

Zero Hedge provided additional details:

By all accounts the situation into the overnight hours (local time) Baghdad has continued to spiral, with one well-known regional Mideast correspondent describing a “full implosion” – despite security forces attempting to enforce a strict curfew meant to clear the streets. The Republican Palace, which is where Iraq’s gridlocked parliament meets (though which has now been suspended by acting prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi), was occupied by armed protesters earlier in the evening.

CNN reports of the latest, “At least five people have been killed and more than 40 have been injured in violent clashes that erupted in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Monday, following an announcement by powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that he was withdrawing from political life, medical sources told CNN.” Earlier, though unconfirmed reports, said at least eight had died amid clashes with police. These numbers were quickly updated and the death toll is expected to go higher into the night: At least 12 protestors killed (AFP), 2 security members killed (Arabiya). State trying to impose a curfew but situation is out of hand. Protestors aggravated by status quo, militias roaming Baghdad, Gov MIA… Long night for Iraq,” Joyce Karam summarizes.

“Several witnesses told CNN the security forces pushed protesters out of Iraq’s Republican Palace by firing tear gas and live bullets. Hundreds of protesters stormed the building inside the Green Zone following al-Sadr’s announcement, Iraqi security officials told CNN on Monday.”

The White House previously denied widespread claims that an embassy “evacuation” was in progress – but at this point it seems more than likely that key personnel are being whisked to safety given the crumbling security situation in the supposedly ‘high-secure’ Green Zone.

The chaotic scenes in Iraq have occurred one year later, to the very week, of the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The White House is addressing viral video which purported to show a military helicopter on top of the US Embassy in Baghdad following Iraqi protesters breaching the high-secure Green Zone,” Zero Hedge added.

“Reports of an Embassy evacuation are false. Ensuring the safety of US government personnel, US citizens, and the security of our facilities remains our highest priority,” a White House official said in the hours after the security situation unraveled.

The official called reports of violent confrontation with police “disturbing” after a curfew for the Iraqi capital went into effect.

“Now is the time for dialogue, not escalated confrontation,” the official said. “

“We join the call by parties across the Iraqi political spectrum to remain calm, abstain from violence, and resolve their political differences through a peaceful process guided by the Iraqi constitution.”

While many details remain unconfirmed, there are reports of several deaths as videos of gunfire continue to emerge.

There are widespread reports that the U.S. Embassy, which is located inside the Green Zone, is being evacuated.

From NBC News:



 

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