Trump: US Embassy in Iraq ‘Safe’ Following Attack

'Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred'
December 31, 2019 Updated: December 31, 2019

The White House confirmed President Donald Trump spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to discuss security matters after an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, as Trump wrote that the embassy has been “safe” for several “hours.”

After Trump spoke with Abdul-Mahdi, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday that “the two leaders discussed regional security issues and President Trump emphasized the need to protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq.” The White House did not elaborate on what the two specifically talked about.

Trump wrote on Twitter following the call: “The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request.”

In the incident on Tuesday, American Embassy guards responded with stun grenades and tear gas after militiamen stormed and burned the security post at the entrance but did not breach the main compound.

Trump added that “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred,” during the incident.

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Tuesday criticized the attempts to breach the embassy and said they were a violation of international agreements.

“The attempt to break the American embassy in Baghdad is a violation of international protocols and agreements binding to the Iraqi government,” he said in a statement on Tuesday to Reuters. “Peaceful protest is a right guaranteed and protected by the constitution but attacking foreign missions is against its interest and international reputation.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote on Twitter that he also met with Trump following the attacks in Iraq: “President Trump is determined to protect American personnel and expects our Iraqi partners to step up to the plate. No more Benghazis.” He was referring to the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left several U.S. staffers dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Graham, after the meeting, issued a warning to Iran: “They continue to threaten American interests at their own peril.” At the same time, he again praised the president for bolstering U.S. military capabilities to protect Americans in Baghdad.

Trump earlier in the day accused Iran of orchestrating the attacks and said Tehran would be held responsible. Iran has rejected the claim.

Over the weekend, the Pentagon confirmed that airstrikes were carried out against an Iran-backed terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. Washington accused the Kata’ib Hezbollah terrorist group of launching strikes that killed an American citizen.

“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. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified,” wrote Trump on Twitter earlier on Tuesday.

Iran issued a statement of its own on Monday, threatening Washington with “consequences” following the strikes.

“America has the surprising audacity of attributing to Iran the protests of the Iraqi people against (Washington’s) savage killing of at least 25 Iraqis,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said via state-run media.

U.S. officials confirmed that more troops will be deployed to the embassy.

Tuesday’s assault was led by Iranian-backed terrorists and lasted several hours, but the U.S. State Department said later that personnel were secure and the facility had not been breached.

Reuters contributed to this report.