Protesters at US embassy in Baghdad gear up for sit-in

Hundreds of protesters surrounded the United States embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday to demand an end to US “intervention” in the country.

Raising flags of the powerful paramilitary group Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), the crowds chanted “down, down USA”.

Tuesday’s rally was completely distinct from the recent, months-long protest movement which has seen tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrate against the political establishment.

Most at the US embassy, supporters of the Hashd Al-Shaabi, were dressed in army fatigues as they gathered around the heavily fortified embassy in the Green Zone, where government buildings and foreign embassies in Baghdad are based, arguing in favour of a state-backed militia.

Within hours, dozens had broken into the embassy compound after smashing a main door and setting fire to the reception area, according to witnesses.

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