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US embassy in Baghdad suspends consular operations

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-02 09:21

A member of Iraqi security forces stands guard during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd Shaabi, in Baghdad, Iraq Jan 1, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BAGHDAD - The US embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday announced the suspension of all public consular operations until further notice.

A statement by the US embassy in Baghdad said "due to militia attacks at the US embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice. All future appointments are cancelled. US citizens are advised to not approach the embassy."

The US Consulate General in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, "is open for visa and American citizen services appointments," according to the statement.

The statement came hours after the supporters of the Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi militias who stormed the embassy withdrew from the perimeter of the embassy.

The protest started on Tuesday when hundreds of mourners, wearing Hashd Shaabi's military uniforms, rallied outside the embassy, chanting slogans condemning airstrikes by the US forces against Hashd Shaabi bases in Iraq.

The protest then turned violent as the protesters managed to break into an outer yard of the embassy, but were repelled by the security forces who deployed tear gas against them.

Local media aired photos showing Qais al-Khazali, head of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq militia, and top Hashd Shaabi leader Hadi Al Amri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis participating in the protest.

On Sunday evening the US forces bombarded headquarters of Hashd Shaabi's 45th and 46th Brigades, leaving 25 killed and 51 injured.

A US military statement said that US forces attacked on Sunday evening five bases of Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) in Iraq and Syria in response to repeated attacks by KH against US-led coalition forces in Iraq.

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