Trump threatens Iran over embassy incident


President Trump threatened Iran after demonstrators, including members of an Iranian-backed militia, breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.

"Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities," Trump tweeted. "They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!"

Trump declared that the embassy in Iraq was safe thanks to the deployment of U.S. military resources and a "rapid response" from the Iraqi government.

He called the incident the "Anti-Benghazi" in a follow-up tweet, a reference to the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Libya in which two Americans were killed.

Thousands of members and supporters of an Iranian-backed militia stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday. Some chanted "Death to America," set small fires and sprayed graffiti inside the walls of the compound. They did not enter the main buildings of the embassy.

Iraqi security forces reportedly did not intervene to stop the demonstrators from advancing until a commander arrived and issued orders.

No U.S. personnel were reported harmed amid the demonstrations, and a State Department spokesperson denied that evacuations were taking place.

The president earlier Tuesday tweeted that he held Iran responsible for the incident at the embassy.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran spiked over the weekend after the Trump administration blamed the Iranian-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah militia for an attack that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded four U.S. service members.

In response, the U.S. carried out airstrikes Sunday against five Kata'ib Hezbollah targets in Iraq and Syria that killed at least 25 militia fighters.

The chaos at the embassy has renewed concerns among some U.S. lawmakers about the potential for conflict with Iran heading into the new year, and Trump's tweet was reminiscent of some of his messages throughout 2019 when the two countries appeared on the verge of conflict.

In June, Trump tweeted that U.S. forces were "cocked and loaded" before he called off a strike against Iran at the last moment in response to the downing of an American drone.

Trump in September tweeted that the U.S. was "locked and loaded" after an attack on Saudi oil facilities, an incident the administration held Iran responsible for.

But the president has been adamant about wanting to avoid further foreign entanglements and has expressed a desire to avoid war with Iran.

Still, some Democrats blamed what they view as Trump's reckless policies in the Middle East for triggering Tuesday's demonstrations at the embassy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted that embassy personnel "deserve protection from the Iraqi host government and smart, strong national security strategy from U.S. leaders. Escalation and violence must end.

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