Updated Jan 2, 2020

Protesters withdraw from U.S. embassy in Baghdad after militia orders

Supporters of the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31. Photo: Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Protestors withdrew from the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday following orders from the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The militia leaders said they had won a victory that allowed their message to be heard, signaling they would now try to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by taking action in the country’s parliament.

All protesters withdrew from the area in front of the U.S. embassy and left the Green Zone. The embassy is now completely surrounded and secured by security forces."
— Joint Operation Command statement, per NBC News

Details: The militia group's political spokesman of Kataib Hezbollah was seen addressing protestors at the embassy compound, saying, "We will take our fight to expel U.S. troops from our land to parliament and if we don’t succeed, we will return."

  • The protestors signaled that they would move to an encampment on the other side of the Tigris River, outside of the fortified Green Zone where the embassy compound is located.

Context: The attempt to storm the embassy was prompted by U.S. airstrikes on five facilities in Iraq and Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah over the weekend.

Worth noting, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: Unlike most of his national security team, President Trump sees very little value in an American presence in Iraq — full stop.

  • Trump has long wanted out of Iraq and believes the American presence in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster that was the worst mistake in U.S. history.

Go deeper: Where U.S. troops and military assets are deployed in the Middle East

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the Joint Operation Command and news that the protesters have left the area.

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