Iraqi security forces (R) stand guard as protesters, including clerics, hold a prayer inside the walls of the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone during an angry demonstration on December 31, 2019 to denounce weekend US air strikes that killed Iran-backed fighters in Iraq. – It was the first time in years protesters have been able to reach the US embassy in the Iraqi capital, which is sheltered behind a series of checkpoints in the high-security Green Zone. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)Previous SlideNext SlideFull screen2/11 SLIDES© Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi security forces, right, stand guard as protesters, including clerics, hold a prayer inside the embassy compound on Dec. 31.
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WASHINGTON, Dec 31 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Iran on Tuesday for “orchestrating” an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and said he would hold Tehran responsible, as officials said more Marines were expected to be sent to the mission.
“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,” Trump said on Twitter.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that a small number of additional Marines were expected to go to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
One official said they were expected to number in the dozens and would be there temporarily.
Another official said two Apache helicopters carried out a “show of force” over the embassy.
HDOFFTrump says Iran will be held ‘fully responsible’ for orchestrating attack on US Embassy in Iraq
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The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the American ambassador and other staff had been evacuated from the embassy compound in the Iraqi capital.
© Thomson ReutersProtesters and militia fighters set fire to a reception room of the U.S. Embassy, during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili
Iraqi officials said the ambassador and other staff were evacuated from the embassy for their safety on Tuesday, as thousands of protesters and militia fighters thronged the gates in fury at U.S. air strikes in Iraq.
On Monday, State Department officials said Washington had exhibited restraint and patience in the face of escalating provocations from Iran or Iranian-backed groups, but that it was time to re-establish deterrence against Iranian aggression.
“We had very much hoped that Iran would not miscalculate and confuse our restraint for weakness. But after so many attacks it was important for the president to direct