DUBAI: Iran denied it was behind violent protests at the U.S. embassy in Iraq on Tuesday and warned against any retaliation, after President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for an attack on the mission and said it would be held responsible, BOL News learnt.
….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. Happy New Year!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Hundreds of Iraqi militiamen and their supporters have hurled stones at the US Embassy in Baghdad for a second day and security forces have fired tear gas and stun grenades to drive them away.
The protests, led by Iranian-backed militias, mark a new turn in the shadow war between Washington and Tehran playing out across the Middle East.
If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge & fight, it will do so unequivocally. We’re not after wars, but we strongly defend the Iranian nation’s interests, dignity, & glory.
If anyone threatens that, we will unhesitatingly confront & strike them.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 1, 2020
US President Donald Trump, who faces re-election in 2020, on Tuesday threatened to retaliate against Iran but said later he did not want to go to war.The protests also cast uncertainty over the continued presence of US troops in Iraq.
Crowds had rallied on Tuesday to protest against deadly US air strikes on militia bases, setting fires, throwing rocks and smashing surveillance cameras. They did not breach the huge embassy’s main compound, however.
Overnight, demonstrators pitched tents and camped outside the embassy walls. On Wednesday morning, they were bringing in food supplies, cooking equipment and mattresses, Reuters witnesses said, suggesting they intended to stay for a long time.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump said in a Twitter post: “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”